Raphael Smith, South Africa

Raphael studied BSc (Eng) Aeronautical Engineering and graduated top of his class from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2011. He moved to Cape Town to continue his studies in the field of Biomedical Engineering and graduated with an MSc (Med) with distinction in 2014. Raphael currently works for CapeRay Medical as part of the team developing the world's first dual-modality mammography machine. His interests lie squarely in the exciting field of biomedical engineering - the source of some of the world's most challenging engineering problems. 

 

The design, construction and testing of a hermetically sealed breast platform for dual-modality mammography

Breast cancer claims nearly half a million lives annually. The use of ultrasound as an adjunct to mammography has been shown to significantly improve the sensitivity and specificity of breast cancer screening. A novel hermetically sealed breast platform for a dual-modality (X-ray and ultrasound) mammography system was designed, constructed and tested. Careful consideration was given to mechanical and acoustic material properties to ensure adequate X-ray and ultrasound image quality. TPX (polymethylpentene) was found to be the only suitable material for the breast platform and novel bonding methods were developed to accommodate its anti-adhesion characteristics. X-ray and ultrasound image quality tests were conducted, and the design was found to increase the X-ray image quality while decreasing the ultrasound image quality only slightly. In clinical trials, the system successfully acquired co-registered X-ray and ultrasound images of healthy and cancerous breasts. These findings have important implications for the future of breast cancer screening.