Researchers at the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University in the UK have developed a camera that can see through the human body, enabling doctors to track endoscopes.
The device does so through its ability to detect sources of light inside the body, e.g. the endoscope's illuminated tip. The camera’s advanced technology means it can detect photons, with experts having integrated thousands of single photon detectors onto a silicon chip.
In addition to detecting the tiny traces of light that pass through the body's tissue from the light of the endoscope, the camera can also record the time taken for light to pass through the body, allowing it to also detect the scattered light. In this way, the camera can work out exactly where the endoscope is located in the body.
"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," commented Professor Kev Dhaliwal of the University of Edinburgh.
"My favourite element of this work was the ability to work with clinicians to understand a practical healthcare challenge, then tailor advanced technologies and principles that would not normally make it out of a physics lab to solve real problems,” said Dr Michael Tanner of Heriot-Watt University. “I hope we can continue this interdisciplinary approach to make a real difference in healthcare technology.”