Breakthrough 3D imaging device can scan inside blood vessels

July 27, 2020
Breakthrough 3D imaging device can scan inside blood vessels

A team of scientists and engineers from the University of Adelaide, Australia, and the University of Stuttgart, Germany, have developed a novel imaging device so small that it can navigate the blood vessels of mice. The miniature endoscope, at the thickness of a human hair, offers unprecedented abilities to 3D-scan the delicate vascular structures within the body at microscopic resolutions.

In order to build the device, the team used a 3D micro-printing technique to print a minuscule side-facing lens onto a fine optical fibre with a diameter of less than half a millimeter (0.02 in), including its protective sheath. This was then connected to an optical coherence tomography (OCT) scanner as a flexible probe.

[OCT is a 3D depth-sensitive scanning technology that uses near-infrared light; it is commonly used to map the retina in optometry and ophthalmology.]

The ultra-thin OCT probe was successfully used in tests in both human and mouse blood vessels, demonstrating its ability to deliver quality OCT images and the flexibility to get where it needs to go in the body.

The tiny probe’s precisely-printed lens also allows the scanner to image depths five times deeper than previous attempts. The team believes this breakthrough could open up new scanning options in hard-to-reach places like the cochlea of the ear and potentially even parts of the nervous system.


Category: Features, Technology & Devices

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