A new handheld probe developed by a team of university and industry researchers in the Netherlands and France could give doctors powerful new imaging capabilities right in the palms of their hands. The imaging system, which is described in a paper published in The Optical Society’s (OSA) open-access journal Optics Express, shrinks a technology that once filled a whole lab bench down to a computer screen and a small probe about the size of a stapler.
The new device combines two imaging modalities: ultrasound and photoacoustics. Ultrasound is a well-established technology that analyzes how sound pulses echo off internal body parts. It is good at revealing anatomical structures and is, perhaps most familiarly, used to image a developing fetus in a mother’s womb.
Photoacoustics is a relatively new imaging technique, still making its way toward widespread clinical applications. In photoacoustic imaging, short pulses of light heat up internal tissue. The slight temperature change leads to a change in pressure, which in turn produces a wave of ultrasound that can be analyzed to reveal information about the body’s internal workings.
The new compact probe and imaging system can be easily transported between rooms in a clinical setting, an attractive feature for future commercialization, the researchers said.
The team is currently working with a European consortium of industrial and academic partners to take the next steps from the research to the commercialization phase. “Some applications targeted are rheumatoid arthritis in finger joints, oncology, cardiovascular disease and burn wounds,” Daoudi said.
Source by : Science Daily News