Optical Fibers for 3D Tissue Imaging Inside Body

Researchers at RMIT University in Australia have developed a technique to allow an optical fiber probe to obtain 3D images of tissues deep within the body. The technology could pave the way for minimally invasive 3D optical biopsies.

An optical biopsy allows clinicians to view tissues in real-time within their native environment, and avoids the need to remove tissue and analyze it in a lab elsewhere. At present, optical probes are used in medicine, but they typically provide a two-dimensional view of the tissues they image.

A new approach to micro-endoscopy developed by RMIT researchers may unlock 3D views of imaged tissues, providing more information about the tissue of interest for clinicians. Interestingly, the technique uses existing micro-endoscopy equipment to create images in stereo vision, similar to how 3D movies are made.

“Stereo vision is the natural format for human vision, where we look at an object from two different viewpoints and process these in our brains to perceive depth,” said Antony Orth, a researcher involved in the study. “We’ve shown it’s possible to do something similar with the thousands of tiny optical fibers in a microendoscope. It turns out these optical fibers naturally capture images from multiple perspectives, giving us depth perception at the microscale.”

Modal structure in optical fibre bundles captures light field information. Image: Marco Capelli, RMIT.

The new technique involves processing microscopic images from an optical fiber probe and combining different views within the images to create a 3D reconstruction. The idea is based on the fact that light hits different optical fibers within the fiber bundle at different angles, and by measuring these angles the researchers can infer the 3D structure of the imaged object.

“The exciting thing is that our approach is fully compatible with the optical fibre bundles that are already in clinical use, so it’s possible that 3D optical biopsies could be a reality sooner rather than later,” said Brant Gibson, another researcher involved in the study.

Check out a video about the technique:

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Study in Science Advances: Optical fiber bundles: Ultra-slim light field imaging probes…

Via: RMIT University…