Novel needle technique takes optical-ultrasound guidance inside the heart

British researchers have successfully outfitted a needle with optical fibers capable of transmitting and receiving ultrasonic pulses within the heart during minimally invasive cardiac surgeries. The achievement may represent a new way to optically image tiny tissue targets in real time and at high resolution throughout the body.

The team, made up of surgeons, engineers, physicists and chemists from University College London and Queen Mary University of London, demonstrated the novel approach’s potential clinical utility in preclinical trials with pigs.

“We now have real-time imaging that allows us to differentiate between tissues at a remarkable depth, helping to guide the highest risk moments of these procedures,” co-lead author Malcolm Finlay, MRCP, PhD, says in an item posted by the news department at University College London.

“This will reduce the chances of complications occurring during routine but skilled procedures such as ablation procedures in the heart,” he adds. “The technology has been designed to be completely compatible with MRI and other current methods, so it could also be used during brain or fetal surgery, or with guiding epidural needles.”

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