High-resolution, non-destructive 3D imaging of whole human lungs for biomedical research
Group Members
Conor Gorman, Diego Granero Marana, Sophie Kemball, Chin Lim, Denise Wang, Alexander Willsher
Supervisors
Professor Ian Sinclair, Dr Philipp Schneider, Dr Wendell Bailey, Dr Jorge Pelegrin Mosquera, Dr Mark Mavrogordato, Dr Orestis Katsamenis
20% of the UK population suffer from a long-term respiratory problem. There is limited knowledge about the development and causes of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). Current whole lung imaging is limited to 2D histology images or limited resolution MRI scans and medical CT.

The aim of this project is to design, build and test a system capable of providing a micro-structural 3Danatomical lung image by scanning a cryogenically preserved lung in a close-to-native state. This will allow further research and understanding into the development of diseases such as COPD and IPF, to then improve current diagnostic methods, technology and treatments.

In this project, a novel and innovative system that fulfils this aim is presented. A rigorous, iterative design process was undertaken including modelling, experimental trials, X-ray transmissibility testing and a final bench test to assess the final design proposal. The final system uses nitrogen spray cooling and comprises an innovative chamber design that is efficient and meets performance targets.

While it was not possible to run a full scan to obtain high resolution images, bench tests were undertaken to prove that the system is capable of achieving and sustaining the required lung temperature and producing no artefacts or excessive attenuation during a CT scan.
Annotated System Overview

 

Cross-Section of adaptor assembly, which allows the nitrogen gas to recirculate through the chamber without compromising its rotation.

 

Design of Form-Fitting Lung Holder

 

Chamber inside CT Scanner ready to undergo testing

 

CT Scan of a human lung inside the chamber