There’s a new ultrasound technique that uses lasers in order to produce images beneath the sky, without actually making contact with the skin, as the traditional ultrasound probes do. This new laser ultrasound technique was used in order to produce an image of a human forearm, which was made by using conventional ultrasound.
For many people out there, getting an ultrasound is straightforward: the probe travel generates a mechanical press a probe against the skin of the patient, and sound waves through the skin, thing that bounces off the fat, the muscle, and the other soft tissues before actually reflecting back to the probe. The probe finds and translates the waves into an image.
The traditional ultrasound does not expose people to radiation, as a CT scanner or an X-ray does; it’s not an invasive procedure. But it does need to get in contact with the body of the patient, and sometimes they need it from people that don’t tolerate it, like burn victims, babies, or people with sensitive skin.
MIT engineers came up with an alternative to the traditional ultrasound, which does not need to get in contact with the body in order to see inside a patient. This new laser is eye- and skin-safe. It generated sound waves that bounce through the body. Then there’s a second laser that detects the reflected waves, and researchers then translate into an image that’s similar to conventional ultrasound.
In the paper that’s been published in the journal Light: Science and Applications, the team stated that they managed to generate the first laser ultrasound image in humans.
Scientists scanned the forearms of volunteers and saw normal tissue, such as bone, fat, and muscle at 6 cm below the skin.