Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 10th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Dowsing for Tumours
27 May 2016

Dowsing for Tumours

"Water, water everywhere..." goes the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and he couldn't be more right. Roughly 70 percent of the Earth's surface is covered in it and it makes up 60 percent of the average human. Detecting how water molecules move within our tissues can tell us about their health. This is the basis of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Water moves through cancerous tissue differently than normal tissue, allowing DTI to detect tumours. Plugging data from DTI into a mathematical model, called the supertoroidal model, provides even more information. Standard MRI scans struggle to differentiate between tumour tissue and surrounding oedema – tissue swelling due to accumulating water. Supertoroidal DTI can detect this difference, as shown in this image of a brain tumour. The tumour mass (red/pink) stands out amid the oedema (blue/cyan). This tool could provide patients with more accurate prognoses and aid surgeons in removing tumours.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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