Ultrasound is an easy method, but sometimes the implementation process is not ideal. This technique requires pushing the probe to the skin. If an ultrasound is required, but the patient cannot tolerate the probe touching the skin, such as a baby or burn patient, better technology is required.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology devised a new method and used laser ultrasound to produce the first images. The new technique does not require contact with the body to see the patient’s body. The technology uses a laser system that is safe for the eyes and skin. A laser in the system can generate sound waves remotely and bounce through the body. The second laser remotely detects reflected waves, which are converted into images similar to traditional ultrasound.
In the test, the researchers scanned the forearms of several volunteers using a remote laser focused on the volunteers from half a meter away, and was able to observe tissue features such as muscles, fat and bones that were 6 cm deep below the skin. These images are comparable to traditional ultrasound.
The team used a 1550nm laser, a wavelength that is highly absorbed by water and is safe for the eyes and skin. Lasers produce clearly visible images of fat, muscle and tissue boundaries. The team plans to improve the technology and refine it to address functional flaws. They also want to improve the detection capability of lasers. In the future, they want to improve existing devices to become portable devices.