Ultrasound tomography is an emerging modality for breast imaging. However, most current ultrasonic tomography imaging algorithms, historically hindered by the limited memory and processor speed of computers, are based on ray theory and assume a homogeneous background which is inaccurate for complex heterogeneous regions. Therefore, wave theory, which accounts for diffraction effects, must be used in ultrasonic imaging algorithms to properly handle the heterogeneous nature of breast tissue in order to accurately image small lesions. However, application of waveform tomography to medical imaging has been limited by extreme computational cost and convergence. By taking advantage of the computational architecture of Graphic Processing Units (GPUs), the intensive processing burden of waveform tomography can be greatly alleviated. In this study, using breast imaging methods, we implement a frequency domain waveform tomography algorithm on GPUs with the goal of producing high-accuracy and high-resolution breast images on clinically relevant time scales. We present some simulation results and assess the resolution and accuracy of our waveform tomography algorithms based on the simulation data.
For women with dense breast tissue, who are at much higher risk for developing breast cancer, the performance of mammography is at its worst. Consequently, many early cancers go undetected when they are the most treatable. Improved cancer detection for women with dense breasts would decrease the proportion of breast cancers diagnosed at later stages, which would significantly lower the mortality rate. The emergence of whole breast ultrasound provides good performance for women with dense breast tissue, and may eliminate the current trade-off between the cost effectiveness of mammography and the imaging performance of more expensive systems such as magnetic resonance imaging. We report on the performance of SoftVue, a whole breast ultrasound imaging system, based on the principles of ultrasound tomography. SoftVue was developed by Delphinus Medical Technologies and builds on an early prototype developed at the Karmanos Cancer Institute. We present results from preliminary testing of the SoftVue system, performed both in the lab and in the clinic. These tests aimed to validate the expected improvements in image performance. Initial qualitative analyses showed major improvements in image quality, thereby validating the new imaging system design. Specifically, SoftVue’s imaging performance was consistent across all breast density categories and had much better resolution and contrast. The implications of these results for clinical breast imaging are discussed and future work is described.