The ring-shaped equipment works by using 360-degree ultrasound, measuring reflected waves from the breast tissue to identify a tumour’s shape, as well as detecting signs of early stage cancer, the company said.
Hitachi aims to put the technology into practical use by 2020 after clinical trials.
Many women find conventional mammography screening, recommended by the government, painful because the machine crushes their breasts, according to the company.
Mammography screening also tends to fail to detect tumours hidden behind the region of high-density mammary glands. The mammary glands produce breast milk.
Ultrasound is commonly used in conjunction with mammography, but it has the drawback that it cannot distinguish between malignant and benign tumours. The new technology was developed by advancing conventional ultrasound.
When undergoing an examination with Hitachi’s new screening technology, a patient lies face down on an examining table and puts her breast in an inspection container filled with water.
Reflected waves from the breast tissues are then measured by casting ultrasonic waves from all directions to determine whether a tumour is present or not.
The method has the added advantage of not exposing patients to radiation.
Hitachi says the technology enables easier detection of tumours and identification of their shape and firmness in patients with high-density mammary glands, and makes it easier to determine if tumours are malignant or benign.
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