Scientists have developed a new camera that can detect light passing through tissues to track endoscope devices inside the human body.

Scientists led by the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University have developed a new camera which can see through the human body.  The new camera according to the research published in the journal Biomedical Optics Express. can detect individual photon particles, and is so sensitive it can spot tiny traces of light passing through tissue. The prototype camera is designed to help doctors track medical endoscope devices, which are inserted into openings of the human body to investigate a range of internal conditions.

Light beams from the inserted endoscope are difficult to track as they usually scatter or bounce as they reflect off of tissues, bones and organs rather than traveling straight through. Until now X-rays or other expensive imaging devices are used to track where the endoscope device is, but the new camera can see through up to 8 inches of body tissue to easily detect the illuminated tip of the endoscope’s long flexible tube.  The camera can also record the time when the light passes through a section of the body, which pinpoints the exact location of the endoscope.  Professor Kev Dhaliwal, of the University of Edinburgh, said: “It has immense potential for diverse applications such as the one described in this work.

Dr Michael Tanner, of Heriot-Watt University, said: “My favorite element of this work was the ability to work with clinicians to understand a practical healthcare challenge, and then tailor advanced technologies and principles that would not normally make it out of a physics lab to solve real problems. “I hope we can continue this interdisciplinary approach to make a real difference in healthcare technology.”