What do you think of when you think of fiber optics? If you are like many people, the first thing that comes to mind might be internet connectivity, or even cable television. The truth is that fiber optic technology is advancing rapidly and the use cases are numerous.
Fiber optic cabling has several properties that make it ideally suited for a wide range of applications. These cables are thin, flexible, and generally fire resistant. In addition, fiber optic cabling is impervious to EMI (electromagnetic interference) and experiences less attenuation. These qualities, along with a host of other helpful features, have claimed the attention of many in the medical community. Doctors, researchers, and device manufacturers are finding new and innovative ways to apply fiber optic technology to medicine. And here are four of the most promising new medical applications for fiber optics.
- Enhancement of Miniature Microscopy
Optical fiber is extremely bendable and can be used to reach nearly any place inside the human body. This is leading many practitioners to adopt fiber optics for examining hard-to-reach tissue. This video demonstrates how physicians are utilizing fiber optic cables to perform fiber optic scopes of the nasal passage.
- Measuring Intravascular Blood Pressure
Ultraminiature pressure sensors are capable of sensing intravascular blood pressure or intracranial pressure during trauma. The fact that fiber optic sensors are free from electrical parts or conductors in sensor areas is extremely beneficial. Fiso Technologies, Inc., from Quebec City, is now using a similar approach to measure intra-aortic pressure.
- Shaping Sensing Fiber for Minimally Invasive Surgery
Multicore fiber consists of three single-mode cores that are positioned into a triad shape and twisted along the entire length of the fiber. These fibers can then be reconstructed on a display monitor by calculating the bend or twist stress of each core. Limiting the need for surgical incisions, fiber optic “shape sensing” fibers are great for minimally invasive surgeries and other diagnostics, such as needle biopsies.
- Imaging and Illumination of Endoscopes for Cancer Detection
The visualization of internal organs and tissue accessible transcutaneously or through natural openings, can play a large role in cancer detection. Flexible and rigid multifiber with step-index and graded-index imaging rods are effective in determining the presence of tumors and other growths.
And all of this is just the beginning! Fiber optic cables have virtually unlimited potential, and as an aging population comes to expect less invasive options, these products will only become more popular. Higher power levels and more advanced laser sources and detectors will improve accuracy and reduce patient risk.
Fiberguide, the leader in the “Art of Fiberoptics”, offers several varieties of optical fibers that are certified for medical use. Our high level of expertise is instrumental in helping customers develop innovative new solutions. To learn more visit: http://www.fiberguide.com/industries/medical/