A new type of 3-D
mammography, based on an imaging system originally developed to pinpoint tooth
decay, has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration and
will likely be ready for market soon in the United States.
The technology, called Tuned-Aperture Computed Tomography® (TACT ®),
allows radiologists to see tumors within the dense part of the breasts or
other regions that otherwise might be obscured by overlying tissues.
The imaging technology was developed by Richard Webber, D.D.S., Ph.D.,
professor of dentistry and radiologic sciences at Wake Forest University
School of Medicine. Webber developed TACT ® to improve dental diagnoses with
three-dimensional images of the teeth. It was licensed by the school to
Instrumentarium Imaging Inc., which developed the mammography device using
"This new technology also allows the radiologist to produce a series of
electronic 'slices' to look at each portion of the breast in greater detail,"
Webber said. He said that TACT ® reconstructs a three-dimensional image from
a series of two-dimensional images made from X-rays, nuclear medicine or even
light as seen by a conventional camera.
Dean F. Stell, assistant director of the Office of Technology Asset
Management at Wake Forest, said that TACT ® is the first imaging system to
allow interactive 3-D visualization of breast tissues.
"This technology has the potential to cut down on unnecessary biopsies,"
Stell said. "Bringing this technology to the public is an important result of
our medical school's technology transfer efforts," Stell said.
Instrumentarium Imaging calls its TACT ® device the Delta 32 TACT ®
three-dimensional breast imaging system, which will be available exclusively
on Instrumentarium Imaging's Diamond Breast Care System. "We're pleased that
the technology is finally becoming commercialized," said Webber. "It's a long
road from idea to implementation."
Other interesting and potential applications for TACT include microscopic uses and industrial applications ranging from looking for defects in castings to bomb disposal.