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Purdue research groups enhancing medical imaging with optical innovations

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | August 31, 2018
3D Printing Ultrasound
Motorized photoacoustic holder of
biomedical imaging system
Two separate research groups at Purdue University are setting out to improve medical imaging with respective developments of a biomedical imaging system composed of ultrasound and optical technology, and 3D printed, optical phantoms.

Utilizing photoacoustic tomography, the biomedical imaging system will enhance clinical care for patients through improved diagnosis of life-threatening diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes, which together add up to $718 billion a year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The nice thing about photoacoustic tomography is the compositional information,” Craig Goergen, an assistant professor in Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, said in a statement. “It provides information about where blood and lipid are located, along with other essential information.”

A noninvasive technique, photoacoustic tomography involves the transmission of pulsed light into the body tissue to create a small increase in temperature that causes tissue to expand and generate an acoustic signal that can be detected by an ultrasound transducer for the visualization of the tissue.

Use of the system can be applied to many tasks, including the mapping of lipid deposition within an arterial wall for the measurement of cardiac tissue damage and tumor biopsies. Applying photoacoustic tomography to intraoperative tumor biopsies enables surgeons to remove all cancer from a patient.

It also requires no contrast agents to depict real-time compositional information of the body tissue, and is equipped with a motorized photoacoustic holder for easy maneuvering and aim of the device. This enables the depth of the solution to be tuned to where the light is focused, improving light penetration depth and signal-to-noise ratio compared to conventional optical techniques.

3D printed, optical phantoms

To ensure that imaging techniques in general are performed at maximum efficiency, a new method for the production of optical phantoms from 3D printers is also under evaluation, with researchers of that collective utilizing technology from Purdue to create the objects.

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