Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Optical technique provides improved 'virtual biopsies' of internal surfaces

Applications may include scanning for gastrointestinal tumors, vulnerable coronary plaques

A new optical imaging technique, developed at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), can provide three-dimensional microscopic views of the inner surfaces of blood vessels and gastrointestinal organs.

In their report in the journal Nature Medicine, receiving early online release today, the MGH-Wellman researchers describe using optical frequency-domain imaging (OFDI) to visualize broad areas of the esophagus and coronary arteries of living pigs. The technique is an advance over optical coherence tomography (OCT) – another noninvasive MGH-developed technology that details much smaller areas – and could be useful for identifying precancerous lesions and dangerous deposits of plaque in the coronary arteries.

"For diagnosing early-stage disease, the clinician has been basically looking for a needle in a haystack; so sampling only a few microscopic points of an organ, as we could with OCT, is clearly not sufficient," says Brett Bouma, PhD, of the MGH-Wellman Center, the report's senior author. "With OFDI, we can now perform microscopy throughout very large volumes of tissue without missing any locations."

While OCT can examine surfaces one point at a time, OFDI is able to look at over 1,000 points simultaneously by using a new type of laser developed at MGH-Wellman. Inside the fiberoptic catheter probe, a constantly rotating laser tip emits a light beam with an ever-changing wavelength. Measuring how each wavelength is reflected back, as the probe moves through the structure to be imaged, allows rapid acquisition of the data required to create the detailed microscopic images.

In the Nature Medicine paper, the MGH-Wellman team reports that OFDI successfully imaged the inner esophageal surfaces of living pigs, revealing the structural details and vascular networks of 4.5-centimeter-long segments with less than 6 minutes scanning time. Scans of coronary artery surfaces were similarly successful, producing three-dimensional microscopic images of the surfaces of segments 24 to 63 millimeters long. An experiment designed to evaluate OFDI's ability to detect damage to arterial surfaces confirmed that the technique could differentiate between healthy and damaged tissue.

Among potential applications for OFDI could be diagnosis of Barrett's esophagus, a precursor to esophageal cancer that can be identified with OCT, provided the affected tissue is scanned. The researchers estimate that the esophageal scan conducted in this study could be reduced from 6 minutes to less than 1 with more powerful computer processing. Another major application would be examining coronary arteries for the vulnerable plaques believed most likely to rupture and produce heart attacks. A 2005 study from the MGH Cardiology Division found that OCT could identify vulnerable plaques in symptomatic patients, and the OCT-developed scanning criteria could be used with OFDI to further study the vulnerable plaque hypothesis and potentially to diagnose dangerous plaques and guide their treatment.

The MGH-Wellman researchers also anticipate extending the technology's capabilities into other fields. "One of the most exciting concepts would be to directly link OFDI with the delivery of therapy, such as laser treatment for early cancer," says Bouma. "Our hope is that, thorough one minimally invasive probe, clinicians will be able to diagnose and precisely treat diseased tissue while sparing adjacent healthy tissue." Bouma is an associate professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School.

Sue McGreevey | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht Gentle sensors for diagnosing brain disorders
29.09.2016 | King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

nachricht New imaging technique in Alzheimer’s disease - opens up possibilities for new drug development
28.09.2016 | Lund University

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>