Researchers developed a laser system that protects the skin and eye as an alternative to traditional ultrasound. It is a system that has a clear picture of patients’ inner parts and a lower risk. Scientists at the U.S. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said traditional ultrasound requires devices to reach the patient’s body. This has a limitation in its use, as young children, patients with sensitive skin or burnt bodies can not get a thorough examination.
Researchers refer to the human laser ultrasound image in the current study published in Light Science and Application. He scanned several volunteer wrists and observed similar features up to about six centimeters below the skin in muscle, fat, and bone tissue. These images of volunteers were taken from a distance of about half a meter using a laser, all the same as traditional ultrasound. Brian W. Anthony, the senior MIT researcher, said the laser is in the early stages of ultrasound success. He said, “Just imagine how good it is when we’re going to be able to do an ultrasound on different parts of the body with just one point of light, and the biggest thing is that there’s no harm to the skin in this process. It’s going to be a new way to detect the characteristics of the tissue. Here, we’ll also need to make any device contact with the patient’s body.”
During the study, the researchers sent light through the laser to the skin at a specific wavelength absorbed by the blood vessels. Because the laser is heated, the blood vessels rapidly expand and cool, and then return to their original size. This happens until the second wave of laser pulse enters it. This causes mechanical vibrations to produce sound waves, which return upwards, where the signal-catching device in the skin detects and transforms it into an image. The researchers say, however, that this technique still requires the detector to have direct contact with the body to detect sound waves.