Blood behaviour

A camera that is capable of imaging blood circulation in real time could soon be used to diagnose disruption of blood flow within a tissue caused by burns and other disorders.

The optical perfusion camera (TOPCam) from Twente University in the Netherlands, builds on an earlier version trialled at the Martini Hospital in Groningen. The developers of this latest design claim that it is now fast enough to see small variations in blood circulation.

Researchers were able to reach these high speeds by using a broad laser beam to illuminate the area of skin being assessed. The beam is scattered by the moving of red blood cells to give variations in the clarity of the pixels. An increased memory capacity in the camera means that images can now be transferred to the computer in real time allowing doctors to see the behaviour of blood.

According to its developers, the camera is now ready for clinical use. In addition to assessing the condition of the tissues, the camera may also be used in applications such as the assessment of blood circulation in diabetics.