Medical Camera Prototype Detects Light Inside the Body

  • iReviews
  • September 07,2017
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Published in the journal Biomedical Optics Express, scientists at the University of Edinburgh and Heroit-Watt University have developed a light-detecting medical camera capable of seeing through the body. Designed to help physicians locate instruments like endoscopes while traversing inside a patient’s body, the camera prototype is well beyond the current technology.

Detecting Light from Endoscopes

“The ability to see a device’s location is crucial for many applications in healthcare, as we move forward with minimally invasive approaches to treating disease,” Kev Dhaliwal, Professor of Molecular Imaging and Healthcare Technology, University of Edinburgh said in a recent press release.


With the ability to track the location of a point light source through 20 centimeters of tissue, the camera prototype bypasses the need for X-Rays or other expensive equipment to guide endoscope tube to its final destination inside the body. Although endoscope light can seamlessly pass through major organs in the body, picking up the exact source has proven to be a difficult task – mostly because the light scatters, ricochets, and bounces off tissue in different directions. The end result: an unclear picture.

“The tech is so sensitive, it can detect tiny traces of light that pass through the body’s tissue from the light of the endoscope.”

The Medical Camera Project

Here is a side-by-side comparison of endoscope light inside the body. The image on the left is taken from an X-Ray and on the right, Edinburgh’s all-new medical camera prototype. According to the study, “the camera can detect light emitted from a medical device known as an optical endomicroscope while in use in sheep lungs.” The image on the right provides Doctors with the exact location of the endomicroscope inside the lungs.


As an added bonus, the camera prototype can be used at the patient’s bedside and it has the ability to record the time it takes for light to pass through the body. This alleviates any confusion around the exact location of the tip of the endoscope. It also makes this device highly portable, easy-to-use, and a without the need for more advanced medical equipment – a more cost effective solution.

The Research Collaboration

The University of Edinburgh project is part of the Proteus Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration – a team of dedicated scientist focused on “developing new technologies for diagnosing and treating lung diseases.” It makes sense one of its first tests happened to be detecting the endoscope light emitting from sheep lungs. According to Dr. Michael Tanner at Heroit-Watt University, the collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, Bath, and Heroit-Watt University has been an incredible experience.


“My favorite element of this work was the ability to work with clinicians to understand a practical healthcare challenge, then tailor advanced technologies and principles that would normally make it out of a physics lab to solve real problems. I hope we can continue this interdisciplinary approach to make a real difference in healthcare technology.”

About Edinburgh Medical School

The Edinburgh Medical School integrates research and teaching across our three deaneries: Biomedical Sciences, Clinical Sciences and Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences. We conduct world-leading research and offer a range of options for study.


Sources: Biomedical Optics Express, Proteus, Edinburgh Medical School