Terahertz imaging and characterization protocol for freshly excised breast cancer tumors

Nagma Vohra, Tyler Bowman, Keith Bailey, Magda El-Shenawee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This manuscript presents a protocol to handle, characterize, and image freshly excised human breast tumors using pulsed terahertz imaging and spectroscopy techniques. The protocol involves terahertz transmission mode at normal incidence and terahertz reflection mode at an oblique angle of 30°. The collected experimental data represent time domain pulses of the electric field. The terahertz electric field signal transmitted through a fixed point on the excised tissue is processed, through an analytical model, to extract the refractive index and absorption coefficient of the tissue. Utilizing a stepper motor scanner, the terahertz emitted pulse is reflected from each pixel on the tumor providing a planar image of different tissue regions. The image can be presented in time or frequency domain. Furthermore, the extracted data of the refractive index and absorption coefficient at each pixel are utilized to provide a tomographic terahertz image of the tumor. The protocol demonstrates clear differentiation between cancerous and healthy tissues. On the other hand, not adhering to the protocol can result in noisy or inaccurate images due to the presence of air bubbles and fluid remains on the tumor surface. The protocol provides a method for surgical margins assessment of breast tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere61007
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number158
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Absorption coefficient
  • Cancer research
  • Engineering
  • Human breast cancer tumors
  • Issue 158
  • Refractive index
  • Terahertz reflection imaging
  • Terahertz transmission spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Terahertz imaging and characterization protocol for freshly excised breast cancer tumors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this