Transforming X-ray Imaging
Adaptix is revolutionising Radiology by producing an innovative miniaturised Flat Panel X-ray Source that can be integrated into a manufacturers existing product line. The complementary reconstruction algorithm that was developed in partnership with the University of Oxford, ensures the optimal calculation of a Digital Tomosynthesis volume in DICOM format.
Digital Tomosynthesis (DT) using conventional X-ray systems has already demonstrated its clinical potential beyond breast imaging. DT helps, for example, to better characterize equivocal lesions in planar chest X-ray and can optimize the use of CT resources. The introduction of Adaptix’s innovative distributed Flat Panel Source enables the design of compact, affordable DT systems that would allow more patients timely and easy access to low-dose 3D imaging.
The Flat Panel Source
Our Flat-Panel X-ray Source (FPS) is made up of an array of cold cathode field emitters, sealed into a unit together with a power supply. The field emitters each generate a conelet of X-rays. Because the array would otherwise produce a large number of overlapping X-rays, a proprietary system allows for each X-ray emission to be addressed and individually controlled which avoids the common problem of high voltage switching.
The Flat-Panel array emits X-rays covering many different angles allowing depth information to be derived through tomosynthesis. A reduced standoff distance (for instance, 50cm instead of 170cm for chest imaging) is used for an FPS-based solution, reducing power requirements and thermal challenges compared to conventional tube-based X-ray sources. A further benefit of the array is the production beam focal spots which are well below the typical millimetre range and allows for enhanced resolution.
Digital tomosynthesis (DT), where a conventional X-ray tube is moved through a range of angles to derive 3D data, has been shown to give better diagnostic information than 2D X-ray.
However, the limited depth resolution of DT (due to the acquisition covering only a circa 40-degree angle instead of 360 degrees as in a CT exam) may lead to difficulties in localising some structures as well as to artefacts. The Adaptix system ‘sweeps’ in 2 dimensions, allowing enhanced ‘z’ resolution relative to conventional DT.
In addition the acquisition time on commercially available systems ranges from five to twelve seconds, breathing induced motion artefacts, and consequently blurred images are another concern with chest DT. Holding their breath for up to twelve seconds can be very difficult for many patients and the resulting artefacts are often impossible to correct – even with sophisticated reconstruction algorithms. By switching the emission electronically, the Adaptix technology allows faster acquisition times.
No existing DT systems are mobile, therefore cannot be used for point-of-care diagnostics. They are also too large and expensive to be deployed in primary care or out of a hospital setting. The Adaptix technology is designed to enable low-cost systems to allow widespread deployment beyond the hospital, into primary care and ultimately the ambulance and developing world.
Adaptix’s FPS uses a rectangular array of emitters instead of just a line. It has the potential to enable lower-cost, smaller footprint, higher performance DT devices that are compact enough to be employed at the patient’s bedside. The FPS is composed of an array of cold cathode field emitters that can produce X-ray energies in a range relevant for medical imaging: 20-120 keV. The array generates a large number of overlapping X-ray conelets, and a raster system allows for each X-ray emitter to be fired individually or in clusters. Control of the emission process is achieved through electromagnets, avoiding the common problem of high-voltage switching. The use of an FPS for tomosynthesis enables the source to be much closer to the patient than standard CXR stand-off distances.
This innovative approach is complemented by application of novel image reconstruction techniques producing a slice-by-slice reconstruction which enables extremely quick partial analysis and adjustment of slice thickness over regions of interest. The approach uses backprojection together with a ramp-filter, and is substantially less memory intensive than techniques that must reconstruct the volume as a whole. In addition, noise and artifact reduction techniques and the ability to reconstruct slices in super-resolution improve the reconstruction quality, whilst computational optimisation ensures that the method is fast.
Research and Development
Adaptix is focused on transforming radiology. We recognize that outside of healthcare, there are additional opportunities for our X-ray technology. Our research efforts seek to develop a range of capabilities, building on our core technologies, including electron beam production and control through field emission, X-ray conversion and collimation, vacuum enclosures, and support systems such as embedded electronics and high-voltage generation.
Our research team includes scientists, engineers and technicians with a combined expertise in the aforementioned disciplines.
Our facilities include an on-site prototyping shop, clean rooms, precision assembly labs and X-ray testing labs. Our development team focuses on translating our own research into prototypes and products whilst our team of engineers and technicians use their extensive knowledge of materials and systems to design and build our products. We follow iterative development models, quickly incorporating test data into new revisions.
Adaptix has 20 patent families with over 150 filed patents to protect the development of its addressable Flat Panel X-ray Source (‘FPS’) and the applications of the 3D imaging that the technology permits. The patent portfolio now covers the full system including methods and apparatus for producing X-rays and the tools for 3D image reconstruction.
The combination of patents awarded and filed gives Adaptix the freedom to continue to innovate, while protecting further research and development into distributed arrays.
Facilities and Collaborations
Adaptix’s R&D facility is located at Oxford University’s Begbroke Science Park. Work is also conducted at the state-of-the-art facilities at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, one of the national scientific research laboratories in the UK operated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).
The company also collaborates with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in assessing device performance.
Various academic collaborations for research also exist with Oxford University and the Cockcroft Institute.
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