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Technology Breakthrough in Deep Light Imaging to Improve Disease Diagnosis

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 13 Jul 2023
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Image: New deep light imaging could improve disease diagnosis (Photo courtesy of Freepik)
Image: New deep light imaging could improve disease diagnosis (Photo courtesy of Freepik)

Optical coherence tomography (OCT), an important form of light imaging, operates on the principle of light backscattering within the sample under observation, similar to how light gets scattered in fog due to water droplets possessing different refractive indices than the air. Just as the scattering makes it hard to see through fog, the scattering by cellular components and smaller constituents in biological tissue also complicates imaging tasks. Specifically, acquiring a clear signal from depths surpassing 1mm presents significant difficulties, chiefly because of intervening tissue. Now, a technological breakthrough in OCT is set to revolutionize applications in fields like ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiology, and early cancer detection, as well as improve disease diagnosis.

Traditional understanding holds that the OCT signal is largely influenced by light that has experienced a single backscattering event, while light that has been scattered numerous times hampers image creation. An international team of researchers, in collaboration with the University of St Andrews (Scotland, UK), have uncovered a contrasting perspective. They suggest that selectively gathering multiply scattered light could enhance image contrast at depth, especially in highly scattering samples. The researchers further demonstrated how this technique could be applied in a simple way with minimal additional optics, by shifting the light delivery and collection pathways. The team is confident that their ground-breaking discovery has the potential to challenge existing conventions and bring about a significant shift in retrieving images at depth.

“The unique configuration, supported by our modeling, should redefine our view on OCT signal formation – and we can now use this insight to extract more information and to improve diagnosis of disease,” said Dr. Peter Andersen, co-corresponding author from Technical University of Denmark.

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