Mechanical Imaging (MI), also called "Tactile Imaging", “Tactile Sensing’, "Stress Imaging", or "Computerized Palpation", is a new modality of medical diagnostics that is based on visualizing the sense of touch. MI is a branch of Elastography: it differs from conventional ultrasonic and MR elastography in that it evaluates soft tissue mechanical structure using stress data rather than dynamic or static strain data. MI is intrinsically a three-dimensional imaging modality because the surface stress patterns obtained at different levels of tissue compression are defined by three-dimensional mechanical structure of the tissue.
Example of 3D reconstruction for the phantom internal mechanical structure
Dr. A. Sarvazyan, Chief Scientific Officer of Artann, started developing Mechanical Imaging technology in the late 80s. In 1992, he filed the first USA patent on MI. Artann has been advancing the MI technology since its inception in 1995. Till now, MI is one of the main areas of research activities of Artann. Artann scientists are the first in the world to introduce and develop MI technology for various applications, as described in numerous scientific publications and 21 issued patents. With the support of numerous NIH SBIR grants, Artann has developed several generations of devices for prostate imaging, performing and documenting breast examination, vagina examination, and imaging myofascial trigger points in muscle.
MI closely mimics manual palpation, since the MI probe with a pressure sensor array mounted on its face acts similar to human fingers during clinical examination, slightly compressing soft tissue by the probe and detecting resulting changes in the pressure pattern. Mechanical properties of tissues, i.e. Young’s modulus and viscosity, are highly sensitive to tissue structural changes accompanying various physiological and pathological processes. A change in Young’s modulus of tissue during the development of a tumor could reach thousands of percent.
Selected Publications and Patents
- Sarvazyan A., Egorov V. Mechanical imaging - a technology for 3-D visualization and characterization of soft tissue abnormalities: A Review. Current Medical Imaging Reviews 2012; 8(1): 64-73.
- Sarvazyan A, Egorov V, and Sarvazyan N. Tactile Sensing and Tactile Imaging in Detection of Cancer, book chapter In: Biosensors and Molecular Technologies for Cancer Diagnostics, edited by Keith E. Harold, CRC Press, May 29, 2012: 337-52.
- Sarvazyan AP: Mechanical imaging: a new technology for medical diagnostics. Int J Med Inf 1998, 49: 195-216.
- Egorov V, Sarvazyan AP, Method of characterization and differentiation of tissue. USA Patent 8,142,368; March 27, 2012.
- Egorov V, Sarvazyan AP, Patel M. Tactile sensor array for soft tissue elasticity imaging. USA Patent 8,069,735; December 6, 2011.
- Sarvazyan AP, Egorov V, Human tissue phantoms and methods for manufacturing thereof. USA Patent 7,419,376, Sep 2, 2008.
- Sarvazyan AP, Skovoroda AR. Method and apparatus for elasticity imaging. USA Patent 5,524,636 1996.