Vivosight reflects on cancer

A handheld fibre-optic probe that is set for launch in April could help doctors detect and diagnose skin and oral cancer.

Vivosight from UK medical equipment manufacturer Michelson Diagnostics is a new optical coherence tomography (OCT) device that detects light reflections to produce detailed 3D computer images of body tissue.

OCT works by projecting a laser beam onto a tissue. As the light penetrates it also reflects from the layers and subsurface artefacts of the tissue. Most of this light scatters on its way back to the surface.

The small proportion of reflected light that does not scatter is detected in an OCT microscope. There, the light is made to interfere with the original source light in an interferometer.

The resulting interference fringes are detected and filtered from the scattered light signal. The magnitude and position of these fringes provide the intensity and depth of the reflected light.

This information is transmitted to a computer where a high-resolution 3D image can be constructed.

The Vivosight probe is slightly different to other OCT imaging systems because it uses four laser beams, instead of just one, aimed at different depths in tissue.

‘With this, we get get double the resolution that is physically possible with one beam and now we can give much clearer, crisper images as a result,’ said Jon Holmes, chief executive of Michelson Diagnostics.

The multi-beam design is claimed to provide an image resolution of better than 10µm.

Michelson Diagnostics plans to commercially launch Vivosight this spring with two variants of the probe. One version will have X-Y scanning to enable 3D mapping of flat tissue such as skin. The other probe will be equipped with a rigid endoscope so it will be suitable for internal applications.

Holmes added that the Vivosight fibre-optic technology also has the potential to be miniaturised, so smaller probes for key-hole surgery are possible.

He said that the probe not only detects cancers such as melanoma, it can also be used in the treatment and monitoring of such cancers.