Scientists developed a new camera that is able to see through a human body. The camera has been designed to aid doctors in the tracking of medical tools called endoscopes used in investigating a number of internal conditions.
The new camera can detect light sources inside the human body, like an illuminated tip of an endoscope’s flexible tube.
Up to now, it was not possible to track where the endoscope was located inside the body to guide it toward the correct location inside the body without the use of x-rays or other methods that are much more expensive.
The endoscope’s light passes through the body, but scatters or it bounces off different organs and tissues instead of traveling directly through, which makes it close to impossible to receive a clear picture of the location of the endoscope.
The camera uses advanced technology that is able to detect individual light particles known as photons.
Experts integrated thousands of individual photon detectors onto an individual silicon chip, that is similar to one found inside a digital camera.
This technology is ultra-sensitive so it is able to detect tiny traces of light passing through body tissue from the endoscope’s light.
The camera is able to record the time it takes for the light to move through the body, which allows the device to detect scattered light.
Through taking into account the scattered light as well as the light traveling straight to the new camera, the device can work out the exact location of the endoscope inside the body.
Researchers developed the camera so it can be uses at the bedside of patients.
The ability to view the location of a device is crucial to many applications in medicine as there is a move towards minimally invasive new approaches to the treatment of a disease, said one medical expert.
Early testing has demonstrated that the device, still in prototype form, can track locations of a point light through 20 cms. of body tissue with normal light conditions.
This project, which Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh led, is part of multi-medical collaboration that is developing a number of revolutionary technologies for the diagnosis and treatment of lung diseases.