While X-rays can produce harmful radiation, a new technique using laser-induced sound waves provides highly detailed images of the structures in our bodies.
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Photoacoustic imaging is an emerging imaging technique that shoots micro-pulses of laser light at a specimen or body part, which selectively heats up parts of the tissue causing them to expand, and generate waves of pressure –– a.k.a. sound waves.
Ultrasonic sensors are situated to capture these microscopic changes, and a processing software then reconstructs the image based on what the sensors “hear.” The speed of the laser can be adjusted depending on what type of tissue one would like to visualize.
The photoacoustic imaging technique is beginning to take off in both the medical and scientific worlds, as it provides us with super clear, incredibly detailed images of the human body and the structures inside it.
Not to mention, the imaging technique causes no discomfort and there is no dangerous ionizing radiation involved, making it a desirable alternative to more traditional imaging, like a CT scan, ultrasound, or a PET scan.
Not only can this new imaging technology be used to image tissues at extremely high resolution, you can also introduce a foreign material, like a contrast dye or a specially designed nanoparticle, to see things you might not be able to otherwise.
Although the technique has been around for more than a century, photoacoustic imaging is just starting to be clinically explored as an alternative and prototype clinical machinery is in development.
Learn more about this revolutionary imaging technique on this episode of Elements.
#Medicine #Imaging #Lasers #Technology #Seeker #Elements #Science
“Possessing many attractive characteristics such as the use of non-ionizing electromagnetic waves, good resolution/contrast, portable instrumention, as well as the ability to quantitate the signal to a certain extent, photoacoustic techniques have been applied for the imaging of cancer, wound healing, disorders in the brain, gene expression, among others.”
Photoacoustic imaging enables scientists to step up war on cancer
“Photoacoustic imaging delivers exquisitely detailed images of biological tissue purely by listening to the sound that light makes. Ultrashort pulses of laser light of a few billionths of a second are directed at the tissue and selectively absorbed, depending on the colour of different constituents of the tissue.”
The Eclectic History of Medical Imaging
“In the 1940s and early 1950s, shoe salesmen flipped a switch and shoppers could see their toes wiggling on fluoroscopes. At their height, some 10,000 of these devices were in use at shoe stores across the United States. X-rays, emitted by a tube mounted near the floor, penetrated the shoes and feet, then struck a fluorescent screen on the other side.”
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