Microwave imaging for medical applications is attractive because the range of dielectric properties of different soft tissues can be substantial. Breast cancer detection and monitoring of treatment response are areas where this technology could be important because of the contrast between normal and malignant tissue. Unfortunately, the technique is unable to achieve the high spatial resolution at depth in tissue which is available from other conventional modalities such as x-ray computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We have incorporated a soft-prior regularization strategy within our microwave reconstruction algorithm and compared it with the images obtained with traditional no-prior (Levenberg-Marquardt) regularization. Initial simulation and phantom results show a significant improvement of the recovered electrical properties. Specifically, errors in the microwave property estimates were improved by as much as 95%. The effects of a false-inclusion region were also evaluated and the results show that a small residual property bias of 6% in permittivity and 15% in conductivity can occur that does not otherwise degrade the property recovery accuracy of inclusions that actually exist. The work sets the stage for integrating microwave imaging with MR for improved resolution and functional imaging of the breast in the future.
- Breast cancer detection
- image reconstruction algorithms
- microwave imaging
- soft-prior regularization
- spatial priors