Tissue biopsies of skin lesions can be unpleasant and quite painful. Moreover, a biopsy typically doesn’t sample the whole lesion and doesn’t provide much information about a given lesion’s size and depth. Now, scientists at Rutgers University have developed and tested a new device that relies on two different mechanisms to analyze skin lesions.
The new “virtual biopsy” device relies on vibrational optical coherence tomography to analyze tissue. It delivers pulses of near-infrared light, along with sound clicks, into the target tissue. The combination technology can identify how deep a lesion is seated and even whether it looks like it may be malignant.
The optical component provides information about the shape and size of the lesion, while the vibrational component can test its stiffness, a factor that can indicate that a tissue is cancerous.
Because the device doesn’t require skin penetration, there’s no pain involved. The only sensations that the patient experiences are the clicks from the sound waves it generates.
The virtual biopsy should be beneficial for any follow-up interventions, as it can indicate the shape and depth of a lesion and therefore provide guidance for a surgeon about to operate. Currently, physicians typically don’t know much about the tumor’s size and shape until they whip out the scalpel.
So far, a proof-of-concept study on patients with carcinomas and other lesions has shown that the technology has great potential in clinical practice, but more optimization will be necessary to improve its capabilities.
Study in Skin Research & Technology: Comparative “virtual biopsies” of normal skin and skin lesions using vibrational optical coherence tomography