Research scientists at the Dresden-based Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems’ (IPMS), are focusing on speeding up the diagnosis of cancer by developing a microscopic image sensor. Ideal for vivo diagnosis during endoscopy, this sensor accelerates the tumor detection process and eliminates the need to perform time consuming biopsies.
Early detection is vital for the cancer’s successful treatment. However, each lump does not emerge as a malignant tumor. To ascertain the cancerous cells’s presence, doctors normally perform a biopsy and use a microscope to analyze the removed tissue. This process, besides being stressful for the patient, is very time consuming also.
The microscope head is eight millimeters in diameter and designed for optical resolving and magnifying the tissue cells that measure a mere 10 to 20 micrometers. This head is fixed on an endoscope’s tip and will be utilized for in vivo cancer diagnosis. It will be inserted inside the human body like a minimally invasive surgical operation.
The scientists foresee that the micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) microscope head will obviate the requirement for biopsies. Real time diagnosis would empower doctors to quickly ascertain the requited course of treatment.
The system operates through the laser positioned in the operating theater. The laser light is guided through a transmitting fiber on to a micro-scanner mirror attached to the endoscope’s tip. This laser beam gets deflected and particularly lights up the suspicious tissue. A glass-fiber bundle at the endoscope’s tip sends the reflected laser beam on to an external sensor that receives a signal that has the image information.
A detector measures the scanner mirror’s position precisely and indicates the region under illumination at a particular instant. The image and position sensor signals can be combined to reconstruct a two-dimensional image completely.