Oral cancer detected by handheld probe
Researchers led by Dr. John Zhang from the University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX, USA) have created a portable, miniature microscope that may help reduce the time taken to diagnose oral cancer.
The probe, which is around 20 cm long and 1 cm wide at its tip, could be used by doctors to diagnose oral cancer in real-time or as a surgical guidance tool. Dentists could also use it to screen for early-stage cancer cells.
The probe uses a laser to illuminate areas of the sample and can create 3-D images beneath the surface of tissue. It can also take a series of images and layer them on top of each other, much like the tiling of a mosaic, giving a large overall field-of-view.
The researchers and their commercialization partner NanoLite Systems (Austin, TX, USA) are now planning clinical trials with a view to gaining approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They envisage that, with a few adjustments, the device could be built for a quarter of the price it costs to build the microscopes that are currently used in diagnosis.
A paper entitled 'Portable oral cancer detection using a miniature confocal imaging probe with a large field of view' which describes the design of the probe is available here.
-- by Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design