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Tactile Tumor-Imaging Device

July 14, 2010

Chang-Hee Won

Chang-Hee Won and his colleagues at Temple’s College of Engineering have made a novel tactile tumor-imaging device by exploiting the optical properties of waveguides — which are planar, flexible and transparent probes. They will present their device at the 52nd meeting of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine in Philadelphia, July 18 – 22.

Light traveling in a transparent waveguide will normally not leak out because of the principle of total internal reflection; if the refractive index of the guide is more than that of the surrounding material, a light ray approaching the wall of the guide will be reflected back into the guide. If, however, the guide becomes deformed because an object compresses the waveguide, then light can escape at that point. An imager will capture the light and from this image the mechanical properties of the objects may be determined.

In this case, the object in question is a tumor. In the case of the Temple research the waveguide consists of a flexible probe fed with light from a light emitting diode (LED). Light exiting the probe is caught on a camera, and from the emergent light the scientists are able to measure tumor diameters to within about 4 percent and tumor depths to 7.6 percent.

“We have performed a phantom study and [imaged] globus tumors in mice,” says Won. “More sophisticated machines such as MRI will measure the size and depth more accurately, but the elasticity information is unavailable with MRI. Conversely, methods such as sonoelastography will provide the elasticity information, but this is a much more complex machine. Our device provides a means of detecting size, depth, and elasticity information in a relative simple device.”

The next step, Won says, is to move from imaging mouse to human tumors with the device. This he is now doing with collaborators at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Cooper University Hospital.

Small-scale human tests will be carried out within this year. Won says that this device has a potential to be used in breast cancer screening if it proves successful.

A website with more information:

The presentation “Design and Evaluation of an Optical Tactile Imaging Device for Tumor Detection” by C Won et al. will be at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 18 in the exhibit hall of the Philadelphia Convention Center.



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