MIT Researchers Perform First Ever Laser Ultrasound on Humans

Technology

For the majority of people, undergoing an ultrasound treatment is fairly easy. As the technician slowly presses the probe against the skin of a patient, it generates sound waves. These sound waves then travel through the skin and bounce off the muscle fat and other tissues before reaching back to the probe. The probe then detects these reflecting waves and translate them into an image.

Traditional ultrasound procedure does not involve patients to undergo harmful radiations such as X-ray, much unlike to CT scanners. Moreover, these procedures are typically non-invasive. However, they do need close contact with the body of the patient. This at times may pose a challenge to the operators where the patients are not able to tolerate the probe properly. There may be several reasons for such conditions such as the patient might be a burn victim or an infant, or simply have sensitive skin. Moreover, the probe contact induces considerable variability in imaging, thus posing a larger challenge.

A Revolutionary Technique

Now, engineers from MIT have come up with a viable alternative solution for the traditional ultrasound technique. This new procedure does not need any physical contact with the patient to figure out the developments inside. This laser ultrasound procedure uses a skin-safe laser system and an eye to remotely map the image of the patient’s body. One laser generates sound waves remotely inside the patient’s body whereas the second one detects the waves reflecting back. The researchers are then able to convert the results into an image similar to the traditional ultrasound procedure.

The paper about laser ultrasound imaging is now featuring in the journal – Light: Sound and Applications. The research team is claiming to generate the first-ever laser ultrasound image of humans. They are now able to scan common body tissues in volunteers as deep as 6cm below the skin.

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