Purpose: This report proposes an approach to develop a method of microwave imaging for early, non-invasive diagnosis of breast tumors. Here we describe a data-processing method for obtaining radio images of biological heterogeneities and a new method for filtering static noise in received signals. Methods: A specialized radar system was developed in the present study and used to perform sounding of synthetic phantoms with the dielectric properties of breast tissue in the range of 2–8 GHz. Datasets thus contained synthetic structures that imitated the dielectric properties of breast tissues and tumors. The permittivity values of the created artificial materials were verified using a waveguide cell. Tumors were simulated via plastic balls with a diameter of 1 cm that were filled with saline. A special ultra-wide band (UWB) radar system developed at Tomsk State University was used to register radar responses from the phantoms. The radar system included the vector reflectometer, the UWB antenna, and the mechanical scanner that provided sounding in the hemisphere. We also used the time-domain signals processing method to obtain the radio image signals. In this method, all signals received during scanning in the hemisphere are added with calculated delay for the given focus point. Special filtering of the constant components of the signal at each of the angular sounding latitudes was used to eliminate clutter in the received signal. This solution allowed us to account for additive clutter in the received signal from structural elements during scanning in the hemisphere. The influence of the number of angles on the quality of the resulting radio image was evaluated. Results: The phantoms of a female breast and a malignant tumor from artificial materials with electrophysical characteristics close to those of real tissues have been developed. This facilitated verification of the proposed method for constructing radio images under more clinically relevant conditions. The proposed filtering of the constant components of the signal effectively doubled the signal-to-noise ratio in the resulting radio image compared with the standard algorithm of clutter filtering. The influence of different numbers of scan points on the quality of the final radio image are presented herein. It is concluded that it is sufficient to use not more than 600–800 sounding points for acceptable image quality. A further increase in the number of angles does not significantly improve image quality despite increasing the scan time. Conclusions: Scanning in the hemisphere of the breast phantom using the proposed method of clutter filtering show that multi-angle microwave imaging can form accurate three-dimensional (3D) images with double the level of signal-to-clutter compared with the standard filtering approach. The images of artificial tumors were obtained when sounding in the range of 2–8 GHz with the resolution of about 5–7 mm.
- breast cancer
- diagnostic imaging
- microwave imaging
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging