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Medical Imaging Fails Dark Skin. Researchers Fixed It


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An African-American man receives an ultrasound.

The team was able to filter unwanted signals from images of darker skin, in the way a camera filter sharpens a blurry picture, to provide more accurate details about the location and presence of internal biological structures.

Credit: Getty Images

A team led by researchers at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) developed a way to produce clear images of anyone's internal anatomy, no matter their skin tone.

"When you're imaging through skin with light, it's kind of like the elephant in the room that there are important biases and challenges for people with darker skin compared to those with lighter skin tones," said JHU's Muyinatu "Bisi" Bell.

"Our work demonstrates that equitable imaging technology is possible."

The team created an algorithm to process information from photoacoustic imaging, a method that combines ultrasound (US) and light waves to render medical images. In people with darker skin tones, melanin absorbs more of this light, which yields noisy signals for US machines.

The team was able to filter the unwanted signals from images of darker skin to provide more accurate details.

From Johns Hopkins University Hub
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