Detection of Stiff Nodules Embedded in Soft Tissue Phantoms, Mimicking Cancer Tumours, Using a Tactile Resonance Sensor


Background: Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most common form of cancer among males in Europe and in the USA and the most common curative treatment is removal of the prostate, i.e. prostatectomy. After the removal, the prostate is histopathologically analysed. One area of interest is to examine the perifery of the prostate, as tumours on and near the surface can indicate that the PCa has spread to other parts of the body. There are no current methods to examine the surface of the prostate at the time of surgery. Tactile resonance sensors can be used for detecting areas of different stiffness in soft tissue. Human prostate tissue affected by cancer is usually stiffer than healthy tissue, and for this purpose, a tactile resonance sensor was developed. The aim of this study was to investigate the depth at which embedded stiffer volumes could be detected, using soft tissue phantoms. Methods: With the tactile resonance sensor used in this study, the shift of the resonance frequency and the force at contact with tissue can be measured, and combined into a tissue stiffness parameter. The detection sensitivity of the sensor at impression depths, 0.4 and 0.8 mm, was measured for detection of inserted nodules of stiff silicone in softer silicone and in chicken muscle tissue, mimicking prostate tissue with cancer tumours. Results: Measurements on the silicone samples detected the hidden stiffer object at a depth of 1 - 4 mm with a difference in the stiffness parameter of 80 - 900 mN/kHz (p < 0.028, n = 48). At the depth 5 - 6 mm the difference was smaller but still significant < 30 mN/kHz (p < 0.05, n = 24). For the measurements on chicken muscle, the detectable depth was 4 mm (p < 0.05, n = 24). Conclusion: This model study suggests that, with only a small impression depth of ≤1 mm, the resonance sensor system described here can detect stiffness variations located at least 4 mm in silicone and chicken muscle, mimicking tumours in prostate tissue.

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Åstrand, A. , Jalkanen, V. , Andersson, B. and Lindahl, O. (2014) Detection of Stiff Nodules Embedded in Soft Tissue Phantoms, Mimicking Cancer Tumours, Using a Tactile Resonance Sensor. Journal of Biomedical Science and Engineering, 7, 181-193. doi: 10.4236/jbise.2014.74022.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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