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Disease Markers
Volume 18 (2002), Issue 4, Pages 175-183

Mechanical Spectral Signatures of Malignant Disease? A Small-Sample, Comparative Study of Continuum vs. Nano-Biomechanical Data Analyses

Jun Liu1 and Mauro Ferrari1,2

1Biomedical Engineering Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
2Department of Internal Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA

Received 12 February 2003; Accepted 12 February 2003

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Thin sections from human breast biopsies were employed to perform a differential analysis of the ultrasound spectral responses from invasive ductal carcinoma and normal tissue. A non-destructive testing methodology was employed, yielding the reflection coefficients as function of frequency in the clinical ultrasound range. The spectral responses were simulated both in the context of continuum and nano-biomechanics, with the objective of quantifying the physical properties that determine the differences in the spectral signature of normal vs. malignant tissue. The properties that were employed for the theoretical reconstruction of the spectra were: the density, the continuum and the nanomechanical elastic constants, and the nanomechanical theory internodal distance. The latter is a measure of the depth-of-penetration of mechanical actions between contiguous tissue elements. Together with vectorial descriptors of the tissue spatial arrangement, the internodal distance variable affords the quantitative incorporation of tissue architectural data in the theoretical model.

In this paper, the validity of the nanomechanical approach to tissue characterization is discussed, and its potential extensions to biomolecular marker-based cancer diagnostics and therapeutics are considered.