18 January 2021 16:28:08 IST

IIT Madras researchers develop ultrasound monitoring instead of MRI

The team was awarded the Sitare – Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Appreciation award 2020

IIT Madras researchers have developed an ultrasound-based temperature tracking for treatment monitoring. Unlike other imaging modalities, ultrasound combines several advantages such as safety (non-ionising), real-time capability and portability, among others. The IIT Madras research team was awarded the ‘Sitare - Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI) Appreciation 2020’ for this project.

This solution involves obtaining diagnostic ultrasound signals from the tissue region of interest in the body, where heating is applied non-invasively from outside either through microwave applicator or High-intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), and process these signals, specifically using prior knowledge from physics of wave interaction with the tissue medium.

Thermal therapy using HIFU is already in use for treating solid tumours (both cancerous and benign). The current state-of-the-art technology monitors treatment using MRI (MR-guided HIFU). A popular clinical case is for treating uterine fibroids. The technology developed by IITM researchers will be ultrasound-based monitoring, instead of MRI, thus making it accessible and affordable.


1) Non-invasive treatment and real-time monitoring of the process

2) Safe to use as no exposure to ionising radiation is involved

3) Portable and suitable for point-of-care applications

4) The ultrasound-based real-time feedback can be readily integrated with low-intensity ultrasound heat therapy devices that are commonly used in most physiotherapy centres

Hyperthermia, likewise, has shown promise for several ailments. Examples include using RF-electrode in liver disease treatment or disease of prostate. The IIT Madras Researchers contribution is to monitor this in real-time when, specifically, microwave is used. This combination makes it completely non-invasive and affordable.The results from these studies have been presented and published in various international IEEE society conferences over the last year.

Feasible tech

Highlighting the advantages of this technology, Prof Arun K Thittai, Department of Applied Mechanics, IIT Madras, said, “Having multi-parametric image feedback allows for accurate real-time monitoring for a wide range of thermal therapies. These techniques can be incorporated as a software in existing scanners by the manufacturers and thus does not require any special electronics hardware.”

Currently, the IIT Madras researchers have demonstrated the feasibility of the methods using experiments done on tissue mimicking phantoms and ex-vivo tissue samples. They are now working to convert these proof-of-concept methods to design an integrated microwave applicator cum ultrasound-based real-time imaging feedback for a possible clinical application.

The research team involves faculty from the Department of Engineering Design Madras for the microwave applicator aspect. A complete in-house set up for HIFU ablation has been established by the researchers from Department of Applied Mechanic., IIT Madras.


Dr KavithaArunachalam, Associate Professor, Dept of Engineering Design, IIT Madras

Aliarshad Kothawala, PhD scholar, Dept of Applied Mechanics, IIT Madras

Divya Baskaran, PhD scholar, Dept of Engineering Design, IIT Madras