Less Painful Biopsies and Faster Treatment
To investigate the universe’s mysteries, Hubble must have highly sensitive charge coupled devices (CCDs), which convert light into digital images.
To investigate the universe’s mysteries, Hubble must have highly sensitive charge coupled devices (CCDs), which convert light into digital images. Hubble’s advanced CCD technology has also helped a digital mammography biopsy system image breast tissue more clearly and efficiently than before. It allows doctors to locate and take detailed X-ray images of suspicious tissue, then guide a needle to retrieve a sample. This procedure requires local rather than general anesthesia, and a needle instead of a scalpel, saving patients time, pain, scarring, radiation exposure and money.
Furthermore, astronomical image processing techniques used to sharpen Hubble’s early images have also proven effective in identifying microcalcifications in mammograms (such as those seen in the accompanying image), which are indicative of breast cancer. When applied to mammograms, software techniques developed to increase the dynamic range and spatial resolution of Hubble’s initially blurry images allowed doctors to spot smaller calcifications than they could before, leading to earlier detection and treatment. The sooner the cancer is found and treated, the better the chances are that a patient will make a full recovery and preserve her quality of life.