Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras have developed an ultrasound method to monitor treatment and measure temperature. The team was awarded the Sitare – Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI) Appreciation award 2020.
The solution involves receiving diagnostic ultrasound signals from the tissue region where heating is applied non-invasively, either through a microwave applicator or high-intensity focused ultrasound. The signals are then specifically processed using the knowledge of wave interaction with the tissue medium.
At present, state-of-the-art technology uses MRIs for treatment of solid tumours, a method especially popular in treating uterine fibroids. IIT Madras’ researchers say their technology makes the treatment more accessible and affordable. Other benefits include real-time monitoring, safety in use as there is no exposure to ionising radiation; and the equipment is portable with point-of-care applications.
Thermal (heat) therapy is routinely offered for pain relief and rehabilitation of target tissue by inducing mild temperature elevation. Another treatment option for some diseases is to raise the temperature levels as in the case of hyperthermia or ablation of cancerous tumours.
A major challenge is that these approaches are not widely used in clinical practice for want of reliable and affordable real-time feedback in the form of heat maps from the targeted treatment region. The IIT Madras researchers say their method permits integration of feedback with low-intensity ultrasound heat therapy devices commonly used in physiotherapy centres.
Arun K. Thittai, professor in the Applied Mechanics department said, “Multi-parametric image feedback allows for accurate real-time monitoring for a wide range of thermal therapies. These techniques can be incorporated as software in existing scanners by the manufacturers and do not require any special electronics hardware.”
The research team involves faculty from the Departments of Engineering Design and Applied Mechanic at the institute.