Space age X-ray device to help NHS in Britain

The scanner relies on technology which was developed for space, using field emitters.

A joint initiative between the UK Space Agency and the NHS will see the development of a portable new x-ray device the size of a tablet computer.

“A fantastic bit of kit has won which will enable us to do 3-D x-rays in the community and also at bedsides of intensive care patients in hospitals,” Emily Gravestock, UK Space Agency head of applications, told Radio 4.

Last year four applicants had the chance to work alongside the UK Space Agency to turn technology originally designed for extraplanetary discovery – from exploration to satellite communications – into medical solutions for the NHS.

Gravestock said it would allow patients to have ‘fantastic diagnostics’ in the community, reducing the pressure on hospital scanners and CTC scanners. In addition, it the amount of radiation a patient is exposed to will be reduced.

The scanner relies on technology which was developed for space, using field emitters.

“It’s about the size of a tablet device, and what it does is send these x-rays in a really pinpoint way, and it has nine of them which forms an array – say, around the chest cavity or wherever it is that needs to be x-rayed – and it allows it to be done in a portable and miniaturized way.”

The device is expected to be ready within the next 18-months.