Scientists have developed a camera to see inside the human body and detect light sources. Such device will allow doctors to see medicals tools, like endoscopes, when they’re performing a surgery. Now, they won’t need to use X-rays or other expensive methods on their patients to know which zone of the body the endoscope is located.
Until now, it was challenging for doctors to know the exact location of the endoscopes when they were operating. Now, they will quickly notice the light at the tip of the tool using the advanced camera and guide it to its destiny.
“This technique can overcome the limitations imposed by tissue scattering in optically determining the in vivo location of fibre-optic medical instruments,” told the doctors on the study published in Biomedical Optics Express.
Despite the fact that the light at the end of the endoscope can reach 20 centimeters when it’s inside an average body, it usually bounces off organs and tissues, preventing doctors to see it from the outside. According to the study, this will make doctors’ work much easier.
The new device was created by an Indian-origin scientist named Kev Dhaliwal – leader of a group from the University of Edinburgh – along with a group of the Heriot-Watt University. Dhaliwal, who is also a professor of Molecular Imaging and Healthcare Technology at the same UK University, considers that this device will generate an enormous impact on medical research and advancements.
“It has immense potential for diverse applications, such as the one described in this work,” said the UK professor and leader of the group, Kev Dhaliwal. “The ability to see a device’s location is crucial for many applications in healthcare, as we move forwards with minimally invasive approaches to treating disease,” the BBC reported.
Endoscopes are used in typical medical check ups – as throat or nose examinations -, but also at ongoing operations. If there is not an opening in the body such as the mouth or ears, they have to cut a little line on patients’ skins to create an open space and give access to the large medical tool. In these cases, doctors use specialized endoscopes named as the exact human part intended to examine – as colonoscope, laparoscope, or arthroscope.
An endoscope is a thin, large tool that allows doctors to look deep inside the human body. This tubular instrument has a source of illumination at the tip of the cable, and a tiny integrated camera to record the inside of the body while on its way, delivering doctors at the same time an exact view of the process. However, when doctors don’t see the light, they have to move the tool according to their medical knowledge.
Although the light at the end of the endoscope is really intense and doctors can sometimes see it when it’s inside of their patients, it is usually blocked by their organs and tissues. However, this new camera will identify the photons coming from the light of the tool whether or not doctors can actually see it from the outside of the body.
Sometimes referred as a “quantum” of electromagnetic energy, photons are an essential unit to create light. Kev Dhaliwal and the group from the University of Edinburgh found a way to precisely identify which part of the patient’s body the photons were coming from, leaving behind old cumbersome methods.
“The position was determined to centimetre accuracy, within clinically relevant settings and models,” the researchers wrote in their study, which was published in Biomedical Optics Express. “This technique can overcome the limitations imposed by tissue scattering in optically determining the in-vivo location of fibre-optic medical instruments.”
A camera that can detect light particles
Doctors applied many techniques to find the location of the optical fiber probes with centimeter imaging resolution in clinically relevant models. The camera is quite similar to a standard camera that people usually use every day. However, this tripod mounted camera has a pulsed laser source and can be used in an environment with or without fluorescent room lights.
This very sensitive camera was created to let doctors use it at the patient’s bedside. It doesn’t only catch tiny particles of light going through tissue but also record the amount of time the light takes to cross it.
The project is part of the Proteus Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration. Researchers are also focusing on creating new technologies to diagnose and treat lung diseases.
“My favourite element of this work was the ability to work with clinicians to understand a practical healthcare challenge, then tailor advanced technologies and principles that would not normally make it out of a physics lab to solve real problems,” said Dr Michael Tanner from the Heriot-Watt University. “I hope we can continue this interdisciplinary approach to make a real difference in healthcare technology
Source: The Optical Society