Endoscopy is currently one of the most common methods for medical imaging. Its uses include diagnosing conditions that affect the lungs, the colon, the throat, and the gastrointestinal tract.
During an endoscopy, medical professionals insert an endoscope — a long, thin tube with a strong light and a small camera at the end — into a small opening, such as the mouth or a tiny incision that a surgeon makes.
Endoscopies are an invasive procedure, albeit minimally so. They can create discomfort and are not without risks. Potential side effects of endoscopies include oversedation, cramps, persistent pain, or even tissue perforation and minor internal bleeding.
Now, an innovative discovery may put an end to endoscopy altogether. Maysam Chamanzar, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Matteo Giuseppe Scopelliti, a doctoral researcher in the same department, have devised a noninvasive ultrasound imaging technique that promises to replace the endoscope.
The researchers detail their novel technique in the journal Light: Science and Applications.
Chamanzar and Scopelliti explain in their paper that biological tissue, being a turbid (or dense and opaque) medium, limits the possibilities of optical methods.
Specifically, the tissue is made of large particles and membranes and restricts the depth and resolution of optical imagery, “especially in the visible and near-infrared range of the spectrum.”
The new technique, however, uses ultrasound to devise a “virtual lens” in the body instead of inserting a physical one. The operator can then adjust the lens by “changing the ultrasonic pressure waves inside the medium,” write the authors, and so take in-depth images that were never accessible before, using non-invasive means.
Writer: Sakshi Gupta