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New hybrid imaging device shows promise in spotting hard-to-detect ovarian cancer

By combining three previously unrelated imaging tools into one new device, a team of researchers from the University of Connecticut and the University of Southern California has proposed a new way to diagnose early-stage ovarian cancer in high-risk women through minimally invasive surgery. The new technique may be better than the current standard procedure of preemptively removing the ovaries.

Ovarian cancer has a low survival rate because a lack of reliable screening techniques usually means the disease remains hidden until the later stages. Now researchers have drawn on the unique advantages of multiple imaging tools to test a new way of spotting early-on the tissue irregularities that signal cancer.

For their diagnostic device, the researchers combined the contrast provided by photoacoustic imaging, the high-resolution subsurface imaging provided by optical coherence tomography, and the deeper tissue imaging provided by pulse-echo ultrasound. They tested their device, described by the team in the September issue of the Optical Society's (OSA) open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express, by imaging both pig and human ovarian tissue, and correctly identified malignant tumors that were later confirmed by staining the tissue and examining it under a microscope. These initial tests were performed on tissue that had been surgically removed, but the diameter of the device – at only 5 mm – is small enough that it could potentially be inserted through a small slit to image tissue in live patients.

Paper: "Integrated optical coherence tomography, ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging for ovarian tissue characterization," Yang et al., Biomedical Optics Express, Volume 2, Issue 9, pp. 2551-2561.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This summary is part of OSA's monthly Biomedical Optics Express tip sheet. To subscribe, email or follow @OpticalSociety on Twitter. For images or interviews with authors, please contact Angela Stark, or 202.416.1443.

About Biomedical Optics Express

Biomedical Optics Express is OSA's principal outlet for serving the biomedical optics community with rapid, open-access, peer-reviewed papers related to optics, photonics and imaging in the life sciences. The journal scope encompasses theoretical modeling and simulations, technology development, and biomedical studies and clinical applications. It is published by the Optical Society and edited by Joseph A. Izatt of Duke University. Biomedical Optics Express is an open-access journal and is available at no cost to readers online at

About OSA

Uniting more than 106,000 professionals from 134 countries, the Optical Society (OSA) brings together the global optics community through its programs and initiatives. Since 1916 OSA has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing educational resources to the scientists, engineers and business leaders who work in the field by promoting the science of light and the advanced technologies made possible by optics and photonics. OSA publications, events, technical groups and programs foster optics knowledge and scientific collaboration among all those with an interest in optics and photonics. For more information, visit

Angela Stark | EurekAlert!
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