Ultrasonography is now the most widely used imaging method in medicine. Nearly every field uses this non-hazardous and cost effective method for examinations. But it also contains some disadvantages: for example, the fine detail of the generated images is low; the results are also dependent on the experience of the examiner.
Another shortcoming is the lack of reproducibility of the images. In order to eliminate these disadvantages, instead of using classic sonography which is based on the “phased array” method, the holographic sonography or 3D ultrasonic holography demonstrates new and efficient technology to perfection.
The advantages of holographic sonography in comparison to traditional sonography (Phased Array)
The holographic ultrasound has several clear advantages over classic sonography: For example, 100% of the scattered or reflected sound waves can be evaluated from the perspective of their information content. Since there is no phase noise with holographic ultrasound and only one barrier – sound wave diffraction – holographic ultrasound achieves a significant increase in resolution. By using “very clean” sound waves (i.e. with very well-defined phases), no information is lost during the process. The conventional method, however, does lose valuable information as the waves created by the superposition of different waves are generated by several transmitters, thus being able to create a clean wave by interference only in certain points. But there are also areas where the waves do not interfere favorably from the standpoint of image formation – causing artifacts – and opposing anything real. The classic technique is also not able to provide 3D information directly. The customary market-based sonography devices only produce cross-sectional images of a relatively thick, averaged layer, which are then assembled into a three-dimensional image. Using our 3D ultrasonic holography, it is possible to directly generate many three-dimensional images per second in real time, which can be reproduced an optional amount of times.
A further advantage of holographic ultrasound is fast and efficient the learning stage for staff in our easy-to-use technology. The behavior of the measuring head is simple, because the sound wave includes greater range: Unlike traditional ultrasound, where the measuring head has to be moved several times to capture different structures from all possible angles of incidence, the 3D holographic method only has to be applied in one position to gather and generate the same and more information in a shorter time frame and at higher resolution. The electronics used can generate stronger impulses which is advantageous especially when a greater range is necessary and/or desired. Furthermore, 3D ultrasonic holography enables the production of portable 3D sonography devices.
The importance of 3D ultrasound holography when used for breast ultrasonography
According to “The World breast cancer report 2012” 1.5 million diagnosed cases of breast cancer were counted in 2011. According to WHO, each year 450,000 people die from this disease. In 2012, an estimated 226,870 women and 2,150 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States; approximately 39,510 women and 410 men died [source: webmd.com October 2012].The 5-year survival rate worldwide is 61%; in developed countries such as the United States 89%. If the cancer is detected at an early stage, the rate could be close to 100% according to webmd.com.
Regular breast examinations through mammography make it possible to detect breast cancer at the earliest possible stage, increasing the chances of survival of those affected. A shortcoming of mammography are the false positive and false negative results. The sensitivity of the examination lies between 70 and 75 percent, meaning 25 to 30 percent of breast cancers go undetected despite mammography. If the next examination takes place after two years due to fear of too much radiation exposure, these false negative results may significantly impede successful treatment.
Breast cancer specialists believe that around a quarter of breast cancer diagnoses are wrong. Thousands of overdiagnosed women will be treated using mammography screening without reason. With false positive findings, especially the mental aspect is paramount: women who receive this diagnosis are unnecessarily alarmed and have to undergo further unnecessary procedures.
Another downside is from overdiagnosis: There are breast cancers that are dormant or grow so slowly that they do not affect women at all. These cases cannot be reliably distinguished from dangerous tumors in a mammography. They would therefore be diagnosed as breast cancer and are unnecessarily treated.
Advantages of 3D ultrasound holography based on breast examinations
Since ultrasonic holography does not work with dangerous radiation, breast examinations can be carried out more frequently. Holographic sonography also provides much more detailed resolution images, which significantly reduce the number of false positive and false negative results.
A significant advantage of 3D ultrasonic holography lies in the reproducibility of images. This allows automated or computerized data interpretation / evaluation in the field of breast sonography and even the smallest changes in the order of 0.1 mm are reliably detected. Microcalcifications can be detected as well.
Another possibility is the construction of a breast scan station. Here, the patient lies on a table and the breast hangs freely and without deformation in a container filled with water. Within seconds, the measurement process is complete and the 3D ultrasound pictures can be instantly evaluated, sent to ultrasound specialists or can be automatically compared by the software with pictures of previous examinations. For patients, the 3D ultrasonic holography is a fast, safe, inexpensive, gentle and painless breast examination without radiation exposure.