|[June 03, 2014]
Lasers and Night-Vision Technology Help Improve Imaging of Hidden Lymphatic System
WASHINGTON --(Business Wire)--
The human lymphatic system is an important but poorly understood
circulatory system consisting of tiny vessels spread throughout the
body. This "drainage" network helps guard against infections and
prevents swelling, which occasionally happens when disease or trauma
interrupts normal lymphatic function. Chronic swelling is the hallmark
of a painful, incurable condition known as lymphedema, which often
occurs after cancer therapy and can leave the limbs and other body parts
disfigured for life.
Detecting lymphedema early, before swelling occurs, would lead to better
outcomes for patients, but the major barrier preventing early diagnosis
is the lack of high-resolution imaging techniques that can resolve these
tiny vessels. Recently, a team of researchers at The University of Texas
Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School has developed
a new technology that can non-invasively image the human lymphatic
system (also known as "lymphatics"). A fluorescent dye and
commercially-available laser diode and military-grade night vision
devices are used to visualize the lymphatic capillaries.
Clinically, the device promises dramatic improvements in patient care
because it allows even tiny lymph vessels to be imaged, and it can
quantitatively measure fluid flow throughout the lymphatic system-two
types of measurements that are impossible with today's technology.
2014, being held June 8-13 in San Jose, California, USA, UTHealth
scientist John Rasmussen will describe how they have taken this
technology, which they call near-infrared fluorescence lymphatic imaging
(NIRFLI), from bench-top development to various clinical applications.
"We feel that the ability to see the lymphatics will provide
opportunities to revolutionize lymphatic care," Rasmussen said.
Why the Human Lymphatic System is Hard to Image
The major problem with lymphatic imaging is that the small lymphatic
vessels are filled with lymph, a clear liquid that lacks the natural
contrast needed to show up on instruments like CT scanners or MRIs.
While one might think about injecting dyes or other contrast "aents"
into the lymphatic vessels to make them more visible, the vessels are
very difficult to find and are most often too small to insert a needle.
An existing technology, called lymphoscintigraphy, can take images of
the lymphatic system following injection of a radioactive compound into
or below the skin. However, lymphoscintigraphy typically takes 20-45
minutes to acquire a single grainy picture, and can only image the
largest lymphatic vessels or trunks. The smaller vessels, which make up
the bulk of the lymphatic system, are invisible to lymphoscintigraphy.
In addition because of the long acquisition times, it cannot capture the
real-time flow of fluid in the system.
At CLEO: 2014, Rasmussen will describe how near-infrared fluorescence
laser imaging (NIRFLI) allows lymphatic structures and flow to be
measured quantitatively, including in the fine vessels-a dramatic
improvement over lymphoscintigraphy. In addition, NIRFLI will be safer
and less expensive than existing technology.
To acquire images of the lymphatics, NIRFLI uses indocyanine green dye,
which is injected in tiny amounts into the skin of a patient. The dye is
absorbed into the lymphatics and when illuminated by the laser diode, it
emits a fluorescent light, which the device amplifies with a
military-grade image intensifier-the main component in night vision
goggles-and then captures with a commercial CCD digital camera.
The image intensifier enables the small lymphatic vessels to be
visualized, and by taking sequences of such images, they can produce
movies showing flow within the lymphatics. Rasmussen said that the most
immediate promise of NIRFLI will be to diagnose and monitor the
treatment of lymphedema and may also help surgeons identify and remove
lymph nodes into which cancer tumors drain.
"From these images and movies, we can identify abnormal lymphatic
structure and function in a variety of diseases and disorders in which
the lymphatics play a role," Rasmussen said. "I think we have barely
scratched the surface of what is possible."
NIRFLI was developed with funding from the U.S. National Institutes of
Health and in collaboration with Eva Sevick-Muraca and other scientists
and engineers at UTHealth. Rasmussen added that UTHealth has licensed
the technology to NIRF Imaging, Inc. for commercialization.
Presentation AM1P.1, titled "Clinical Translation and Discovery with
Near-infrared Fluorescence Lymphatic Imaging," will take place Monday,
June 9, at 8 a.m. in the Willow Glen I - III Room of the San Jose
PRESS REGISTRATION: A press room for credentialed press and analysts
will be located in the San Jose Convention Center, Sunday through
Thursday, June 8-12. Those interested in obtaining a press badge for
CLEO: 2014 should contact Lyndsay Meyer at 202.416.1435 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
With a distinguished history as the industry's leading event on laser
science, the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO) is the
premier international forum for scientific and technical optics, uniting
the fields of lasers and opto-electronics by bringing together all
aspects of laser technology, from basic research to industry
applications. CLEO: Expo showcases the latest products and applications
from more than 300 participating companies from around the world,
providing hands-on demonstrations of the latest market innovations and
applications. The Expo also offers valuable on-floor programming,
including Market Focus and the Technology Transfer program.
Managed by The Optical Society (OSA) and sponsored by the American
Physical Society's (APS) Laser Science Division, IEEE (News - Alert) Photonics Society
and OSA, CLEO provides the full range of critical developments in the
field, showcasing the most significant milestones from laboratory to
marketplace. With an unparalleled breadth and depth of coverage, CLEO
connects all of the critical vertical markets in lasers and
electro-optics. For more information, visit the event website at�www.cleoconference.org.
CLEO: 2014 takes place June 8 - 13 at the San Jose Convention Center.
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