Friday, March 18, 2011

Using Fiber Optics to Diagnose and Treat Disease

Victor Yang has been developing way to use Fiber Optic technology to detect and treat diseases. He is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering, and assists Phd students with new forms of research surrounding his new techniques and technology. His students are quickly making a name for themselves and for the medical program at Ryerson University in Toronto Canada. His research is currently being funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Yang has created a new form of imaging called Doppler Optical Coherence Tomography (DOCT). From the article at

"Using minuscule optical fibres, originally created for the telecommunications industry, DOCT creates detailed, 3-D images of the tiniest structures and movements within the body. When looking at delicate and small anatomical features, DOCT is more exact than ultrasound, more economical than MRI scans and safer than X-rays. Above all, DOCT can see things 10 to 100 times smaller than these traditional techniques."

Of course in the medical community, being able to see what you are getting into is a huge advantage when it comes both to surgery preparations and to diagnosing diseases. Once made accessible to the medical community, doctors will be able to see indepth 3-D models than previously produced by ultrasound, x-ray, and MRI imaging. It also comes with a cheaper price tag, which will likely make it very appealing to patients and hospitals alike.

Victor Yang has also used some fiber optic probes that can easily pass through a catheter and gather intel for a heart surgeon attempting to open an artery in the heart:

"... in a coronary angioplasty, a balloon-tipped catheter is used to open a narrowed or blocked artery in the heart. During such a delicate procedure, however, there is a risk of puncturing the arterial wall. Yang and his team have built a mini-probe that can look ahead and guide the catheter to form the right shape within the artery."

With this type of technology available, there is less risk involved in procedures like coronary angioplasty. This will allow doctors to be more exact and cautious with the procedure, and in turn, help to prevent the need for further surgeries in the future.

The use of fiber optics technology in Medical fields is not necessarily brand new, but manipulating the tech is constantly making waves and causing more researchers to move their focus in this direction. For some basic information on "optical fibers", please visit this link at wikipedia.

Study Guide Questions:

1. What is the name of the doctor featured in this article and what basic technology is he developing?

2. What is a normal risk of coronary angioplasty?

3. What does DOCT stand for?


Yates, Dana. "Researcher Develops Medical Technology to Detect and Treat Disease." 18 Mar. 2011. Web. 18 Mar. 2011.

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