Twisted Blood Vessels

Because the same vital angiogenic process that allows your body to heal itself also causes tumors to grow, computer-assisted tortuosity has emerged as a fascinating concept of identifying cancerous tumors by their blood vessel patterns.  With this method, researchers use the rapid formation of blood vessels as a physiological cancer biomarker, enabling a more accurate diagnosis and the rapid tracking of cancer therapy.

New perfusion imaging technologies have been used to study blood vessels at the micro level for years.  However, these were focused on flow and volume of blood, which has lead to an increased number of false positives and false negatives.  The next natural step in the evolution of angiogensis imaging is computerized blood vessel tortuosity.

I spoke to one of the leading authorities on angiogenesis, Dr. William Li, MD, co-founder, president, and medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation in Cambridge, MA, and he explained, “Healthcare is looking in two major directions to help understand blood vessels and the angiogenesis process.  One way is in the area of cardiology and the other is by adapting existing technologies, such as MRI, PET, CT, and ultrasound.”

With regards to value, Dr. Jinming Gao, PhD, director, Jinming Gao Research Group at the University of Texas’ Southwest Medical Center, Dallas, TX, and a leading researcher studying MRI, explained, “Imaging tumor angiogenesis is important in early detection.  It also allows for a quick post-therapy assessment in as little as 30 minutes, which is critical to patient flow.”

Furthermore, the use of blood vessel tortuosity as a biomarker works with existing imaging technology, providing a definite financial advantage; estimates put the clinical software and workstation in the $100,000 to $200,000 price range.

Clinical trials have supported the value of computer-assisted tortuosity.  According to an extensive four-year study, MRA scans have shown a strong correlation between vessel tortuosity and brain cancer.  With the possibility of a more accurate diagnosis, better tracking of therapy, and lower costs, there’s a lot to be excited about.

James Laskaris, EE, BME
James Laskaris, EE, BME, Clinical Analyst — Mr. James Laskaris is a senior emerging technology analyst at MD Buyline and has been with the company since 1994. With over 30 years of experience in the healthcare field, Mr. Laskaris is the primary analyst of high-end OR technology. He also covers issues related to the legislative and reimbursement effect on healthcare and authors a bimonthly “Issues that Matter” publication. Mr. Laskaris received his biomedical engineering degree from Southern Illinois University. His work has been published in hfm Magazine, Radiology Manager and Healthcare Purchasing News.