One of the main weapons to combat cancer is early detection to avoid its development. For that reason, scientists around the word work in improving the best patients diagnose methods. That is exactly what seems to have manage an investigators team of Consorcio Madrid and MIT with what have been call “photometric stereo endoscopy”, a technology based on images 3D that would make the evolution of actual colonoscopy and may help to detect with more precision colorectal cancer or colon cancer.
This new endoscopic technology gets a 3D representation of colon surface from images in two dimensions. With the recreation obtained, the medical doctors would be more easy detection of pre- carcinogenic growths, such as plane lesions that were not possible to find with conventional endoscopy. In words of Nicholas Durr, one of the researcher of this project of MIT.
On traditional colonoscopy, the medical doctors’ search for big polyps’ very characteristics within it (lumen) of the colon those are relatively easy to see. Nevertheless, many studies had demonstrated in the past years that there are other faint lesions that also originate cancer.
To obtain 3D images, at least, three light sources are used that point directly to the colon. The next step is to calculate the distance that is between the colon and the light source, which allows a fairly reliable representation of this digestive apparatus organ, surface something similar to how the sonar works, only that with lights instead of sound waves. This way any alteration, by minimal, will be immediately localized.
The advantage of this new method is that it could be implemented in the most modern endoscopes, that already incorporate several light sources, would simply need a software upgrade and several light adjustments. In addition the MIT team is working in algorithms that automate the polyp’s detection process and other pre-cancerous lesions with this new system, that allows getting an even more effective diagnose.
For the time being, tests had been conducted with artificial color and the results had been satisfactory. Along the following weeks it is hope to be able to test the technology on real patients on Madrid Hospital Clinico San Carlos. Will we be before the colonoscopy of the future?
You can see on stereo photometric endoscopy on Spie Digital Library.