GENEVA, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- Swiss researchers said Tuesday they have developed an ultrasound technique that can help distinguish benign breast tumors from malignant ones.
The technology was developed with support from the Swiss National Science Foundation and has been published in the journal Physics in Medicine and Biology, a statement from the Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich said.
The study noted that an ultrasound probe emits sound waves that penetrate the body.
During ongoing clinical trials, a team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich demonstrated the effectiveness of their prototype in detecting breast tumors.
They said that because organs and tissues have different physical properties, they reflect the waves differently.
The researchers said that the device analyses these "echoes" and reconstructs a three-dimensional image of the inside of the body called an "echograph," or more commonly, ultrasound.
Usually, the device measures the intensity of the reflected sound waves.
"Our goal is to provide physicians with a better tool for decision-making during routine checks, and to avoid unnecessary biopsies," said Orçun Goeksel, assistant professor at ETH Zurich and director of the study.
Ultrasound is one of the three main technologies used in medical imaging.
It is more compact and affordable than nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques, and safer than x-rays.
But the images it produces are often difficult to interpret, said the statement.
"Compared with conventional ultrasound, our images are much easier to interpret," said Goeksel.
The researchers said innovations in ultrasound imaging improve breast cancer detection.