Better Biopsies? High-Speed 3D Cameras Could Be the Future
Biopsies haven't changed much in the more than 100 years they've been in medical use: Tissue (a cluster of cells) is cut from the body, embedded into a block, thinly sliced, mounted on a slide, and stained with dye. A pathologist then analyzes the sample with a microscope. Results come back in 2 to 10 days while the patient and their family nervously wait. Engineers at Columbia University are working to give biopsies a much-needed upgrade. There, Elizabeth Hillman, PhD, and her team have developed a high-speed 3D microscope that can rapidly take photos of live cells without having to extract them from the body.
@analava The difference between a 2D scan and the 3D version is a bit like comparing a flat Polaroid picture to the "Bullet Time" scene from The Matrix. High-speed imagery from many different angles offers a level of detail and precision that a 2D picture can't capture. This clearer picture lets surgeons better tell healthy tissues from unhealthy ones, letting them decide how best to cut out a tumor so no diseased tissue remains. Best of all, if the image looks normal, the tissue gets to stay where it is, inside the patient. The technology could be useful not just for spotting tumors, but also in guiding surgeons by quickly identifying different types of tissue like nerve, fat, muscle, cartilage, scar tissue.