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Combining optical, ultrasound technology

Researchers are developing a novel biomedical imaging system that combines optical and ultrasound technology to improve diagnosis of life-threatening diseases.

Photoacoustic tomography is a noninvasive technique that works by converting absorbed optical energy into acoustic signal.

Pulsed light is sent into body tissue, creating a small increase in temperature that causes the tissue to expand and create an acoustic response that can be detected by an ultrasound transducer.

The ultrasound data is used to visualise the tissue. The system provides real-time compositional information of body tissue without the need for contrast agents and with better depth penetration compared with conventional optical techniques.

Photoacoustic tomography can be used to detect or monitor a range of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Among other potential uses for photoacoustic tomography is the mapping of lipid deposition within an arterial wall that can cause other health problems, measuring cardiac tissue damage and tumour biopsies.

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