An international team of scientists is close to developing a prototype of a lung scanner that will not expose newborns to radiation and eliminate the need to transfer critically ill infants to a hospital for scanning.

Professor Richard Bayford and Dr. Andrew Tizzard of England's Middlesex University lead the team that developed a mathematical formula to create images from radiation-free Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) scanner used for monitoring patient lungs. The formula is called the Grätz concensus reconstruction algorithm (GREIT).

This method is potentially highly portable, cost effective and doesn't require the subject to hold their breath like in other imaging. After all, you can't ask a new born or indeed the unconscious to hold their breath, said Bayford, according to

The GREIT can be used as basis for making portable and cheaper magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scanners for brain, heart and tumor imaging.

Prototypes of the EIT scanner are scheduled for clinical tests within five years.

An EIT scanner works by passing a very small electrical current into the body and measuring the resistance.