Chalmers tekniska högskola AB

06/13/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 06/13/2024 02:49

Microwave technology improves the diagnosis and treatment of tumors, strokes and muscle injuries

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With the help of microwave technology, we can improves the diagnosis and treatment of tumors, strokes and muscle injuries.

Soon, microwave technology may contribute to faster and better diagnosis and treatment of, among other things, stroke and cancer. The microwave technology is harmless, cheap, portable and in some medical contexts it can be better than X-ray. The modern technology can help solve major and global health problems that affect a large part of the population.

Andreas Fhager, Head of Unit and Associate Professor at Biomedical Electromagnetics at the Department of Electrical Engineering at Chalmers, describes microwave technology as follows:

"With microwave technology we can see into the body by sending signals that reflects in various tissue types. If you have bleeding, a cancerous tumour or other injury, it contributes to the microwaves being spread and gives rise to reflections which, among other things, are due to the water content in the tissue being different. That reflection is captured by receiver antennas and analysed with different types of algorithms to be able to detect, identify and distinguish these from healthy body parts."

Cheap, portable and safe

The advantage of microwave technology for diagnostics is that it is a cheaper solution compared to many other technologies. It is a great advantage that the system can be built portable and that you can take it with you in an ambulance and enable, for example, the diagnosis of stroke and trauma patients much earlier than it is possible today.

"Stroke is an acute condition that needs to be treated as soon as possible, but this can only be done after arriving at the hospital and having a computed tomography examination. The hope is to use microwave technology already in the ambulance to give an indication of the type of stroke suffered and how serious it is to be able to better determine where the patient should be transported for the right care and eventually even be able to start treatment in the ambulance," Andreas Fhager says. The research has so far resulted in a clinically approved, CE-marked, system that is currently evaluated by end users for identifying patients with stroke.

Microwave technology can also be used to treat cancer tumours, so-called hyperthermia.

Hyperthermia

Hyperthermia is a method of cancer treatment that aims to heat the tumour to between 40 degrees °C and 44 degrees °C. The technique is based on sending high-power signals into the body from several directions so that they reach the tumour at the same time, whereby the combined electric field becomes so strong that the tumour heats up. It is especially important to be able to direct and control the heating very carefully so that it does not affect adjacent tissue. At the same time, it is essential to get the temperature high enough. It is an advanced process to decide what the antenna setup should look like, which signals should be sent out and to position the patient in the system so that the treatment matches the planning. The research is led by Associate Professor Hana Dobsicek Trefna and the research group is working on developing a prototype to be able to continue with clinical trials.

Two focus areas that the research group works on are brain tumours in children and tumours in the head and neck region.

"A major advantage of hyperthermia combined with traditional radiotherapy or cytostatic treatment is that you can reduce the side effects that radiotherapy gives without compromising the treatment effect," Hana Dobsicek Trefna says.

Radar technology

Another area that the group conducts research in is radar technology, also known as biomedical radar, which is led by Associate Professor Xuezhi Zeng. With the help of a compact radar sensor, you can continuously read the body's movements and enable monitoring of motor functions. The technology can be of great benefit in rehabilitation, as it can provide objective assessments and increase patients' participation, which in turn leads to better individualized and person-centered rehabilitation.

In the long run, the technology will be able to be miniaturized and made so cheap that it can also be used in a home environment.

"Biomedical radar has great potential to be used in care at home. With continuous monitoring of patients' gait and activities, we can predict falls in the elderly, follow the progression of cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, and monitor treatment effects," Associate Professor Xuezhi Zeng says.

Other areas that Andreas Fhager's research group investigate are the detection of traumatic bleeding in the head, abdomen and chest, breast cancer diagnosis, muscle strains in connection with sports injuries, and hydrocephalus in children.

The research within the research group is carried out in collaboration with many partners in clinical research, healthcare and industry.

SahlBEC Lab

The SahlBEC Lab was created on the initiative of the former parties in MedTech West and is mainly financed by a grant from the Swedish Growth Agency. The three partners in the project, Chalmers, Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University (SA/GU) and Sahlgrenska University Hospital have also contributed to the financing. SahlBEC Lab is a place for clinical research where care, industry and academia can collaborate in several areas.

SahlBEC lab is a double shielded room (electrical and magnetic) which will be used to conduct research in microwave technology and magnetoencephalography, so-called MEG. The research within MEG can be applied to several different areas, for example epilepsy. Overall, research will be conducted in a wide range of areas, for example neuroscience, oncology, trauma, cardiology, and psychiatry. The shielding means that microwaves with high power can be used in a safe way and thus the lab is suitable for research in hyperthermia.

The space will be physically located within the radiology operations at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, in direct connection with care.

"The lab with both electrical and magnetic shielding is unique in the world and provides fantastic opportunities to develop new medical technology. A main objective is to work with clinical studies of the microwave technology and MEG in the early development phase," says Andreas Fhager

"Functional tests of the lab are currently underway, and we expect it to be completed by the summer. After that, we can start commissioning the lab," Andreas Fhager concludes.

For more information, contact:

Andreas Fhager
  • Head of Unit, Signal Processing and Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Engineering
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Author

Sandra Tavakoli
Updated 13 June 2024, 10:28Published 13 June 2024, 08:20
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