Although we may not yet have reached the stage where manned submarines can be shrunken down and placed inside the body, à la the movie Fantastic Voyage
, current technology does allow us to do something almost as impressive – it is now possible to obtain images of the inside of the intestinal tract, by getting patients to swallow a camera-equipped capsule. Japanese company RF System Lab
reported success using its Norika 3 RF Endoscopic Robot Capsule to transmit live video from inside test subjects back in 2004, while just last year Olympus
announced the creation of a similar device. Now, Norwegian researchers are stating that they are in the process of developing the “next generation” of camera pill.
If you've ever had to endure a diagnostic session in a magnetic resonance (MRI) machine, you know that lying motionless for up to 45 minutes can be uncomfortable at best. Add in the countless ear-ringing thumps, bangs and knocks and you have a procedure that begs for any sort of abbreviation. Thanks to a new algorithm developed by an MIT research team, the time spent in that claustrophobic tube may soon be appreciably shortened, without much loss of accuracy.
Scientists at Northwestern University, Illinois, have outlined a new method for detecting electromagnetic radiation at the high energy end of the spectrum. The work could lead to the development of a small, hand held device able to detect this "hard radiation" and has implications for the detection of radioactive materials which could potentially be employed in terrorist weapons
, such as nuclear bombs or radiological dispersion devices, as well as materials employed in clandestine nuclear programs.
A team from the University of California at Davis has developed an affordable way to give the iPhone surprisingly capable chemical detection and imaging powers. We've reported on cellphone microscopes
before, but this version claims to be simpler in concept and less expensive, plus it adds spectroscopy to its list of abilities
While financial contributions are certainly a great help to health care practitioners in developing nations, one of the things that they really
need is rugged, portable, low-cost medical equipment that is compatible with an often-limited local infrastructure. Several such devices are currently under development, such as a battery-powered surgical lamp
, a salad-spinner-based centrifuge
, and a baby-warmer
that utilizes wax. UCLA is now working on another appropriate technology in the form of a small, inexpensive microscope that uses holograms instead of lenses to image what can't be seen by the human eye.
Mice are frequently used as lab models when testing new drugs, and fluorescent dyes are sometimes injected into their bodies so that researchers can better see how those drugs are progressing through their systems. Unfortunately, the pictures obtained in this process start to become murky when imaging anything more than a few millimeters beneath the skin. Scientists from Stanford University have now devised a system that utilizes fluorescent carbon nanotubes to produce clear color images of organs that are located centimeters within a mouse's body.
Using a newly developed imaging technique, researchers in the U.K. have for the first time observed what happens to the brain as it loses consciousness. The method known as "functional electrical impedance tomography by evoked response" (fEITER) uses a 32 electrode array to scan the brain at a rate of 100 times a second and by applying this as an anaesthetic drug takes effect, researchers are able to build a real-time 3-D video that will aid in better understanding of how the brain functions and the nature of consciousness.
Not only is the old inflatable-cuff-around-the-arm an uncomfortable way of having one's blood pressure
measured, but it turns out that it doesn't always provide enough information, either. If a physician wishes to check for vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, thrombosis or aneurysms, for instance, they're going to want to know how the blood is flowing in areas besides the patient's arm. Because the cuff works by temporarily stopping the blood flow, however, it's not going to work too well on a patient's neck or torso. Fortunately, scientists from The Netherlands' Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) have discovered that ultrasound can be used instead, and that it provides more details.
Medigus has developed the world's smallest video camera at just 0.039-inches (0.99 mm) in diameter. The Israeli company's second-gen model (a 0.047-inch diameter camera was unveiled in 2009) has a dedicated 0.66x0.66 mm CMOS sensor that captures images at 45K resolution and no, it's not destined for use in tiny mobile phones or covert surveillance devices, instead the camera is designed for medical endoscopic procedures in hard to reach regions of the human anatomy.
U.S. scientists have developed a new miniature, wearable Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner which enables the simultaneous study of brain function and behavior in animals. PET scans are much like Computed Tomography (CT) scans and have helped uncover the molecular underpinnings of conditions like drug addiction, brain diseases such as dementia and they have been used in the medical imaging of cancers.