DIET Breast Cancer Screening System - Research Groups -The Centre for Bioengineering - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Digital Image-based Elasto-Tomography (DIET) Breast Cancer Screening System

An interdisciplinary team is investigating a novel breast cancer screening method aimed at imaging elastic properties within soft tissue. This work involves full time faculty, staff, post-graduate and under-graduate researchers as well as research scientists from industry.

Digital Image Based Elastic Property Assessment Elastic property imaging is undergoing rapid development across the globe as its potential for effective cancer screening and diagnosis is better understood. Most methods being currently developed are based on Magnetic Resonance or Ultrasound modalities, making them either too costly or too limited in their field of view to be practical screening mechanisms. This project aims to develop an elastic property imaging technique targeted as an effective screening method, meaning it must be relatively low cost and yet provide a complete field of view for analysis of the full breast.


The image above shows a DIET scan of a breast with a tumor. Compare this with the image below, which shows a normal breast without a tumor. The fundamental concept behind this technique is the reconstruction of an elastic property description of the breast volume based on motion information obtained at the breast surface by 3D digital imaging techniques. This type of imaging is referred to as a tomographic technique and is similar in concept to an X-ray CT scan except for differences in the physics of the wave propagation that the different systems must account for. X-ray CT scanning involves the measurement of x-ray particle wave patterns at the tissue surface while the proposed elasto-tomographic system would rely on the measurement of mechanical wave patterns at the surface.

No Tumor

The specific project involves three main components

  • The development of the 3D digital imaging system for capturing the surface motion of the breast.
  • The development of the computational algorithms to convert these motions into descriptions of the internal elastic properties of the breast.
  • The development of the mechatronic hardware required to generate the surface motions on the breast and mobilize the digital imaging system.

People Contributing to the Project

From the Mechanical Engineering Dept, Distinguished Professor Geoff Chase has a broad range of expertise in digital control and actuation. Centre for Bioengineering students working on the project include Ashton Peters, Anthony Hii, Crispen Berg, and Hans-Uwe Berger. This work is being conducted in cooperation with researchers from the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester New York, a world leader in the medical imaging industry.

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    University of Canterbury
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    New Zealand
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