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A Research Team Found A Way To Deliver Clear Medical Imaging Regardless Of Skin Tone

A team led by Johns Hopkins University has developed a groundbreaking medical imaging technique that overcomes the challenges faced in obtaining clear images of internal anatomy in patients with darker skin tones.

This new imaging method significantly improves the clarity of images for individuals of all skin tones, with a particularly notable enhancement in the case of darker skin. Unlike conventional imaging methods, which often struggle to distinguish arteries in individuals with darker skin, the innovative technique provides much clearer images.

The solution developed by the Johns Hopkins team involves a novel algorithm to process data from photoacoustic imaging, a method that combines ultrasound and light waves to create medical images. Melanin, which is more prevalent in darker skin, absorbs more light and can lead to noisy ultrasound signals.

Leading the initiative is Muyinatu "Bisi" Bell who is the creator and overseer of the Photoacoustic and Ultrasonic Systems Engineering (PULSE) Lab at Johns Hopkins University. She is credited with the innovation and patenting of the inaugural short-lag spatial coherence (SLSC) beamformer designed for ultrasound data.

"When you're imaging through skin with light, it's kind of like the elephant in the room that there are important biases and challenges for people with darker skin compared to those with lighter skin tones," said co-senior author Muyinatu "Bisi" Bell, the John C. Malone Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Computer Science at Johns Hopkins. "Our work demonstrates that equitable imaging technology is possible."

Furthermore, the goal is to make medical imaging more equitable and effective for a diverse patient population, addressing not only skin tones but also factors like breast densities and body mass indexes, which can affect standard imaging techniques. This innovation has the potential to revolutionize the field of medical imaging and improve healthcare outcomes for a broader range of patients.

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