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At the SYRMEP (Synchrotron Radiation for Medical Physics) beamline of Elettra an X-ray room for clinical phase contrast mammography has been set-up. Over 80 patients have undergone synchrotron radiation mammography with the aim of resolving questionable diagnosis after the hospital exam, based on conventional mammography and ultrasound. This is the first and so far the only clinical study of this kind.
Two fundamental aspects of mammography with synchrotron radiation are:
1. Monochromatic radiation: allows a dose reduction together with a superior image quality compared to conventional mammography at the hospital.
2. High spatial coherence of the beam: makes the effects of phase contrast visible. These effects enhance the visibility of small and/or low-contrast details.
Breast imaging is strongly moving towards 3D techniques. In clinics, tomosynthesis is emerging as a good compromise taking into account costs, dose limits and the similarity of the images with the conventional planar mammograms. On the contrary, breast tomography is still in the pre-clinical development phase.
The goal of SYRMA-CT is to maintain the Italian leadership in phase contrast mammography extending the clinical program of the SYRMEP beamline to breast tomography. To this end, the excellent expertise gained within the activities of INFN CSN5 flow into the project to enable the achievement of objectives with high probability of success. The project is also based on the essential scientific collaboration with Elettra and with the Azienda Sanitaria Universitaria Integrata di Trieste, which has recently been awarded with the EUSOMA european certification; morevoer the same hospital which hosts the Breast Unit is internationally certified as Academic Medical Centre Hospital.
The results will be a reference for the entire international community that studies X-ray phase contrast imaging for medical applications and will carry weight on investment choices for the development of systems based on compact sources.
The SYRMA-CT project will use the Pixirad-8 detector, a photon counting detector with optimal performances in terms of efficiency and resolution, with sensitive area appropriate to the geometry of the SYRMEP beam.
Collaborators: Elettra, Azienda Sanitaria Universitaria Integrata di Trieste.
General Goal: To maintain the Italian leadership in phase contrast mammography with synchrotron radiation extending the clinical program of the SYRMEP beamline to breast tomography.