Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), like Star Trek’s USS Enterprise, is setting its sights to boldly go where no medical gadget has gone before. We’ve followed this technology’s journey through the retinal layers, coronary arterial plaque layers, and other tissues at the sub-micrometer level. OCT is able to achieve incredibly detailed images by collecting near infrared (NIR) light reflected back from tissue structures, much like an ultrasound relies on reflected ultrasonic waves. Because the frequency of NIR light is orders of magnitude smaller than that of ultrasound waves, resolving power is greatly amplified but depth of penetration is greatly reduced (but U/S level of depth penetration is not required to image sub-cellular details).
Now, Tomophase Corp. of Burlington Mass., is ready to take OCT to distant pulmonary recesses in the lung. Presenting at the CHEST meeting in Philadelphia, Oct. 27th through Oct. 29th, Tomophase will demonstrate their Investigational Airway & Pulmonary Tissue Imaging Systems, which consists of a flexible catheter that inserts through the working channel of a bronchoscope.
From the press release:
"Our goal at Tomophase is to use our proprietary optical technology to help clinicians image subsurface pulmonary tissue at a level of resolution currently unavailable, while not exposing the patient to potentially harmful radiation, UV light or contrast agents," commented Dr. Peter Norris, CEO of Tomophase. "Much of the structure in the airways beneath the epithelial layer is essentially invisible to clinicians. Providing real-time access to this information could provide major benefits to both diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to many pulmonary diseases. We believe this research collaboration with Beth Israel Deaconess is an important first step in establishing the utility of this breakthrough technology in both research and the clinic."
The Tomophase system is designed to enable the high-resolution visualization of bronchial and pulmonary tissue cross-sections without biopsy. Its design features include:
Subsurface Microanatomy Visualization (within 2-3 mm) Real-Time Operation Micron Scale Resolution Superior Image Clarity to other OCT Technologies No Radiation, UV light or Contrast Agents Sample Site Morphology Information Retained Both Forward and Side Scan Imaging (in development) Tissue Metabolic/Biochemical Information (in development)
Press release: Tomophase To Exhibit First Cross-Sectional Images Of Human Bronchus Using Proprietary OCT System…
Tomophase technology page…
Bottom image from Tomophase website: Normal human pulmonary tissue; field of view 1.5 mm x 4 mm.