New optical ultrasound system not requiring electronic components could offer doctors more flexibility

Service Engineering

UK researchers have demonstrated the use of an all-optical ultrasound imager for video-rate, real-time 2D imaging of biological tissue, suggesting the time will come when routine clinical use of all-optical ultrasound is a reality, but the researchers will need to develop a flexible imaging probe and smaller versions for clinical use.

Electronic components are not required in the imaging probe so all-optical ultrasound systems could be used simultaneously with MRI scanners, giving doctors a better view of the biological tissue image. Image quality is improved with built-in light beam scanning mirrors, and because images are available in different modes, doctors can quickly switch between the different types of images on a single instrument.

“UK researchers have demonstrated the use of an all-optical ultrasound imager for video-rate, real-time 2D imaging of biological tissue. “

Erwin J Alles, from University College London’s faculty of engineering science, said: “All-optical ultrasound imaging probes have the potential to revolutionise image-guided interventions. A lack of electronics and the resulting MRI compatibility will allow for true multimodality image guidance, with probes that are potentially just a fraction of the cost of conventional electronic counterparts. The flexibility offered by the scanning mirrors will allow for seamless switching between 2D and 3D imaging, as well as a dynamically adjustable trade-off between image resolution and penetration depth, without the need to swap imaging probe. Especially in a minimally invasive interventional setting, swapping imaging probes is highly disruptive, extends procedure times and introduces risks to the patient. Through the combination of a new imaging paradigm, new optical ultrasound generating materials, optimised ultrasound source geometries and a highly sensitive fibre-optic ultrasound detector, we achieved image frame rates that were up to three orders of magnitude faster than the current state-of-the-art.”

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