Expensive scans and X-rays may become obsolete if a newly devised medical camera becomes a commonly used tool in hospitals.
The device, constructed by Kevin Dhaliwal – professor of Molecular Imaging and Healthcare Technology at the University of Edinburgh – is a first of its kind method of detecting devices such as endoscopes within a patient’s body.
Previously this kind of detection would be performed using scans and X-rays. While X-rays do not inflict a huge dose of radiation, repeated X-rays do carry a small degree of risks such as an increased risk of cancer. X-rays are also not advised for pregnant women and so the ability to scan for devices such as endoscopes is limited.
X-rays and scans are also an expensive procedure, especially when their usage is frequent. This can mean that many within India are unable to afford repeat procedures. The new medical camera, if implemented as a common practice, has the capacity to hugely bring down the costs of scans.
Though currently being tested as a detection method for endoscopes, Professor Dhaliwal believes the camera could have multitudes of uses. “It has immense potential for diverse applications, such as the one described in this work,”, he says. He also comments on the potential for future applications “The ability to see a device’s location is crucial for many applications in healthcare, as we move forwards with minimally invasive approaches to treating disease,”.
The mechanism of the device is quite simple. It detects light emitted by an instrument within a patient’s body. Previously, this has been a difficult thing to detect as internal tissue and organs scatter the photons of the light. The body will not, however, deflect every single photon. The new device takes advantage of this.
By attaching thousands of single photon detectors onto a silicon chip, in a similar method to a digital camera, the device is able to detect singular photons that have passed through the body. The device also registers time taken for a photon to reach the detectors, allowing it to calculate the scattering of the light as it passes through the body. This also implicates the possible future usage of the device to analyse tissue density and thickness, which could detect a number of medical symptoms.
The new device has the potential to vastly improve the process of non-intrusive treatment. Alongside this, the replacement of X-rays and scans with a cheaper and more rapid alternative could improve this area of healthcare, both in India and globally.