Thursday, December 19, 2019

Researchers produce first laser ultrasound images of humans

Photo courtesy MIT News
PARCA eNews – Dec. 19, 2019 – MIT engineers have demonstrated an alternative to conventional ultrasound that doesn’t require contact with the body to see inside a patient.

In a paper published Dec. 19, 2019 in the Nature journal Light: Science and Applications, the researchers scanned the forearms of several volunteers and observed common tissue features such as muscle, fat, and bone, down to about 6 centimeters below the skin. The images were judged comparable to conventional ultrasound, but were produced without patient contact using remote lasers focused on a volunteer from half a meter away.

“We’re at the beginning of what we could do with laser ultrasound,” Senior Author Brian W. Anthony, a principal research scientist in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) said in a press release. “Imagine we get to a point where we can do everything ultrasound can do now, but at a distance. This gives you a whole new way of seeing organs inside the body and determining properties of deep tissue, without making contact with the patient.”

The new laser ultrasound technique leverages an eye- and skin-safe laser system to remotely image internal tissues. When trained on a patient’s skin, one laser remotely generates sound waves that bounce through the body. A second laser remotely detects the reflected waves, which researchers then translate into an image similar to conventional ultrasound.

The advance is seen as an alternative to conventional ultrasound for patients who don’t or cannot tolerate the ultrasound probe, such as babies, burn victims, or other patients with sensitive skin.

The researchers plan to keep refining their technique, and are looking to boost the system’s performance image resolution.

Source MIT Press Release

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