Righetti's research featured in The Economist

Photo of Dr. Raffaella Righetti

One professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University was among a group of researchers to have their studies featured in a leading weekly news publication, The Economist.

Assistant professor Raffaella Righetti, along with Dr. Mauro Ferrari and Dr. Ennio Tasciotti from the Methodist Hospital Research Institute in Houston, are studying a way to mend broken bones with a new material and without an X-Ray machine.

In dramatic circumstances - for instance on a battlefield, where surgeons cannot use X-ray machines and there is no proper operating room - effective surgery is virtually impossible. Thousands of soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, have had limbs amputated after injuries that could have been treated at any hospital.

Ferrari and Tasciotti and a collaboration biologists, nanoengineers and mathematicians have been developing a material that surgeons can implant or even inject, which fixes a fractured bone quickly, and which then leads to its full regeneration with no need for nails and pins. Righetti developed a portable ultrasonic scanner that can give instant three-dimensional images of a bone so they will have a way to check the fracture and decide where to make the injection.

Conventional ultrasonics do not work well with bone, but Righetti circumvented the problem by using higher ultrasonic frequencies than normal and special software that amplifies the images of such hard tissues. The hope is to eventually eliminate casts, screws and pins, and eventually the need for X-rays, too.

Righetti joined the electrical engineering department at Texas A&M in 2007. She received her Doctor of Engineering from the Universitá degli Studi di Firenze (Italy) and her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Houston.

Righetti's formal training is in ultrasound imaging with special emphasis in cancer imaging applications. She has published articles in leading journals in the area of ultrasound and elasticity imaging and serves as a reviewer of several major journals in the field of biomedical imaging.