Let’s say you have a spot on your arm that you fear may be skin cancer. The current paradigm is to go to a dermatologist, have the mole biopsied (not painless, and not without risk of bleeding, infection, etc.), then wait for a pathologist to examine the tissue. Now, thanks to University of Rochester optics professor Jannick Rolland, it may be possible to examine the characteristics of the skin lesion using only a handheld microscope, of sorts, with no need for a biopsy.
“My hope is that, in the future, this technology could remove significant inconvenience and expense from the process of skin lesion diagnosis,” Rolland says. “When a patient walks into a clinic with a suspicious mole, for instance, they wouldn’t have to have it necessarily surgically cut out of their skin or be forced to have a costly and time-consuming MRI done. Instead, a relatively small, portable device could take an image that will assist in the classification of the lesion right in the doctor’s office.”
The device uses a process called Optical Coherence Microscopy, which utilizes a droplet of water rather than the traditional glass of a standard lens. A varying electric field changes the drop’s shape, thereby changing the focus of the lens and allowing thousands of different planes to be viewed. These images can be combined into a representation of many layers of tissue up to a depth of 1 millimeter.
This method of microscopy for examining skin lesions has been tested in vivo and has been reviewed in several journals. The next step is to put it to the test in a clinical research setting so it can be compared head-to-head to standard methods.
Press release: A New High-Resolution Method for Imaging Below the Skin using a Liquid Lens …