The Institute of Medical Science and Technology (IMSaT) at the University of Dundee has helped Envision Design Ltd, through support from a SUPA START Award, to develop a new device that uses ultrasound for use in imaging soft tissue, like cancer tumors.
Needle-Based Ultrasound Imaging Device
Envision Design Limited and University of Dundee
The University of Dundee has helped Envision Design Ltd, through support from a SUPA START Award, to develop a new device that uses ultrasound for use in imaging soft tissue, like cancer tumors.
Envision Design Ltd, based in Kincardineshire, design and develop new products, from hydraulic pumps to sub-sea systems. They already had some experience with ultrasound devices and wanted to explore the possibility of incorporating ultrasound into a biopsy needle. This would enable high resolution images to be obtained from close proximity to the tissues of interest.
For example, where a gastrointestinal cancer is present, the patient’s quality of life and treatment efficiency can be improved if doctors can accurately determine if the cancer has spread into the lymphatic system. Real-time, high resolution ultrasound images have significant potential benefits in examining lymph nodes and helping make that diagnosis. Consequently only diseased tissues will be removed with minimal effect on the surrounding area. A miniature ultrasound probe incorporated into a needle would enable this. However, making the probe smaller would affect the acoustic field and mean that the design of the device would need significant work.
The aim of the project was to investigate the feasibility of manufacturing a miniature ultrasound probe, incorporating this into a needle and examining the effect on the acoustic field. The project would also examine how such a device could be manufactured for general use.
Four different transducer configurations were investigated for use in the needle-based ultrasound probe. For each configuration, an optimized geometry was determined, taking into account trade-offs between system complexity, fundamental electronic characteristics, and image quality.
The recommended configuration for incorporating an ultrasound transducer into a needle was determined after evaluation of functionality associated with the devices, and manufacturability. Early prototypes of devices and components were fabricated to test some of the design and fabrication considerations that arose during the feasibility study.
Development of the recommended device will continue, and further funding will be sought to fabricate a prototype high frequency ultrasound device incorporated in a needle on the basis of this study.