Low cost high frequency (15, 20 and 25 MHz), and high resolution medical imaging linear array transducers will be designed and constructed for commercial sale under the direction and design of the NIH Resource Center for Ultrasonic Transducer Technology at the University of Southern California. A newly developed high performance ultrasonic scanner, the UltraVision, with the unique feature of having its high speed digital functions entirely within a large Field Programmable Gate Array chip, will be reprogrammed to accommodate the transducers. The UltraVision supports the very advanced features of elastography and optoacoustics and these modes will continue to be functional at these high frequencies. The system will initially be targeted to the morphological and functional imaging of cancer tumors in small animals. The animal studies will be under the direction of the Biomedical Engineering Department of the University of Texas at Austin where Associate Professor Stanislav Emelianov has already guided the UltraVision's design of optoacoustics and elastography. The initial aim is to provide researchers with an accessible tool for cancer research in small animals that will reduce the cost of the science and animal usage. Bringing the new modalities of functional imaging will also increase the specificity of cancer detection and staging. The long term goal is to develop an instrument that will be capable of supporting the emerging field of molecular specific imaging with antibody conjugated nano particles. This new field of optoacoustic imaging of nano particles is very compelling due to their sensitivity, the ability to synthesize their optical spectral absorption, and their non-toxicity. The transducers will be constructed on a 2-2 piezocomposite design known to the investigators Drs. Cannata and Shung and transferred to WinProbe where they will be set up for construction in volumes to be commercialized. The modification to the UltraVision will be largely performed in Very High Speed Integrated Circuit Hardware Description Language, which is not a simple task but it is the only method of accommodating the needs of performing the functions at the required speeds and costs. The acoustic lines will be formed by interlacing and cross-correlation to achieve a very high resolution performance. As the UltraVision Medical Ultrasound System is being commercialized for Breast cancer discrimination and the ageing of thrombi, its price savings from production volume will be shared into the research environment.
This project develops high frequency transducers for a newly developed and uniquely designed medical ultrasonic scanner to image small anatomical structures and to display their functionality. Initially targeted for use in the research of cancer with small animals, its future is seen in the emerging field of functional imaging of the human sentinel lymph nodes with contrast of cancer attaching nano particles. The modifications to the system will be designed to preserve the scanners very low equipment cost.