But this new scanner adds color and a third dimension, creating high resolution, cutaway 3D models that can diagnose bone fractures and monitor healing. New Zealand-based Mars Bioimaging (MBI) has now conducted a feasibility study of the machine, with a larger international trial set to begin soon.
In a traditional CT scan, X-rays are beamed through the target area of the body, and the radiation is absorbed more readily by denser tissues like bone, while passing more easily through softer tissues. The end result is that high contrast black-and-white image we know so well.
But the new technology collects more nuanced data about how the X-rays are absorbed by different tissues. It's built around a chip called the Medipix3, which tracks every photon that hits every pixel on the sensor, and processes their interactions with various atoms in the body. By doing so, it can determine the density and composition of those tissues more accurately.