The 3D Color X-Ray Scanner: A Look Into the Future

Radiology is a dynamic and rapidly progressing branch of the medical field that is developing new and improved diagnostic techniques to help doctors discover disorders, develop treatment plans, and deliver the best medical care possible.

A 3D X-ray apparatus, comprised of 2 machines, is pictured against a white background.

One recent development with promise comes out of the University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand, where radiologist Anthony Butler, MB, ChB, PhD, and his research team have developed a 3D color X-ray scanner that they hope will reduce the need for invasive surgery when doctors attempt to detect cancers and blood diseases.

The 3D Color X-Ray Scanner: How It Works

Utilizing a Medipix3 chip, the scanner counts subatomic particles as they meet pixels while the electronic shutter is open, allowing the scanner’s computer to create high-resolution images of soft tissues, such as bones, fats, liquids, and cartilage, which could contain minute disease markers.

Butler explains the scanner’s function in the following way:

“The scanner matches individual X-ray photon wavelengths to specific materials and then assigns a corresponding color to the scanned objects. The tool then translates the data into a three-dimensional image.”

While similar images had been created utilizing a wide spectrum of grays, Butler and his team have created a dynamic color 3D X-ray image, which increases the level of detail available to aid doctors in disease diagnosis.

Advancing Diagnostic Medicine: What It Can Do

The medical community is hoping that the new technology will aid in the diagnosis of anatomical abnormalities, tumors, or other abnormal tissues, and help doctors monitor changes over time, leading to superior treatment and increased positive patient outcomes.

The research team sees the possibility that this new 3D color X-ray technique will connect directly to 3D printing of parts that need to be reconstructed.

In the very near future, Butler hopes his scanner scanner will also find some application for the daily clinician, saying:

“We’re going to start doing research on bone health. We are currently putting people with various bone diseases into our human scanner to study human disease. I think that’s immensely practical now, and we’re looking for partners who wish to do that with us. You know, if I weigh my scientific guess, we’re just kind of at the beginning of a new theme or branch of research, and that’s a really exciting time to get into it.”

3D X-Ray Scanners and More: The Dynamic Future of Radiology

Coming from an amazing history of scientific achievement that is barely 120 years old, radiology continues to make amazing strides in diagnostic medicine.

To learn more about what direction radiology is taking as we head into the the future, we invite you to read our article on current trends in radiological technology.

Shad Merchant

Shad Merchant is an industry veteran with experience in every aspect of the X-ray and imaging industry, having spent over 20 years assisting small medical practices, massive hospital systems, and everyone in between, all over the world, to find the right imaging solution for their needs. Contact him at to learn more about what equipment is right for you.

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