The new laser-based method, developed at Duke University, should provide 3-D images of blood vessels in relatively deep tissue (up to 1 mm, much better than conventional microscopes) with a resolution at the micron scale (at the level of blood cells, which is better than MRI resolution) and does not require any contrast agents or fluorescent markers (unlike most other high-resolution vessel-imaging techniques).
Clinically, the imaging technique can potentially be used to detect the spread of cancer, since angiogenesis—the growth of new blood vessels from existing ones—often signals the proliferation of tumors. This may make the technique convenient and powerful for helping to diagnose diseases such as melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The technique can image blood vessels up to a millimeter below the surface. Looking at blood vessels just below skin growths would be very useful for distinguishing between malignant and benign skin tumors, and would remove the critical need for skin biopsies, which is especially helpful if there are multiple suspicious areas that need to be investigated.
Since hemoglobin is highly concentrated in red blood cells, imaging the locations where this molecule occurs can map out the distribution of red blood cells and reveal the vessels themselves. If the imaging is fast enough, researchers can capture snapshots of blood flow in individual vessels. Moving beyond mere imaging, the technique can detect the difference between oxygen-carrying hemoglobin (oxyhemoglobin) and oxygen-lacking hemoglobin (deoxyhemoglobin). This is
Source:Optical Society of America