PARIS – Researchers from the University of Southern California and the Washington University in St. Louis claimed they have developed a hybrid medical imaging technology that could help doctors detect tumors more quickly.
Doctors now employ ultrasound endoscopy to study internal organs. This technique places an ultrasound camera, similar to ones used to create images of fetuses, on a flexible scope that can be inserted internally. Images are high-resolution but also low-contrast.
Researchers from the University of Southern California and the Washington University in St. Louis said their technology combines two existing forms of medical imaging, photoacoustic and ultrasound, and uses them to produce high-contrast, high-resolution combined images.
Researchers explained that they added a photoacoustic-imaging device to the ultrasound endoscope. The resulting camera zaps organ tissue with a light. When the light is absorbed by tissue, the tissue gets slightly hotter and expands. That expansion produces a sound pressure wave that the ultrasound device on the endoscope picks up.
The team said it has tested its device inside the gastrointestinal tract. It offered in vivo
images detailed enough to show blood vessels, as well as the density of the tissue around them. Doctors could potentially detect colon and prostate cancers earlier, researchers concluded.
The image at the bottom is a composite of the first two taken of a rabbit esophagus in vivo. Source: USC