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Night-Vision Devices Help Image Lymphatic System

June 5, 2014
Written by: , Filed in: Abdominal Imaging, Chest Radiology, Diagnostic Imaging
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Technology borrowed from military night-vision goggles can greatly improve imaging of the lymphatic system and promises to help victims of lymphedema, according to research scheduled to be presented at the upcoming Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO:2014).

Researcher John Rasmussen, PhD, didn’t mince words about the implications of the new technique, called near-infrared fluorescence lymphatic imaging (NIRFLI):

We feel that the ability to see the lymphatics will provide opportunities to revolutionize lymphatic care.

Dr. Rasmussen is an assistant professor in the Center for Molecular Imaging at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, known as UTHealth. He was quoted in a CLEO:2014 news release. The conference is scheduled for June 8–14 in San Jose, California.

The lymphatic system is difficult to image because lymph is a clear liquid. Contrast fluid would help, but the small lymphatic vessels are difficult targets for injection.

The new NIRFLI technique involves injecting indocyanine green dye into the skin. The dye is absorbed into the lymphatic system. When illuminated by a laser diode, it emits a fluorescent light. The NIRFLI device amplifies the light with the same kind of image intensifier found in night-vision goggles. A commercial digital camera captures the images. Sequential images can be stitched together to create movies that depict the lymphatic flow.

“From these images and movies, we can identify abnormal lymphatic structure and function in a variety of diseases and disorders in which the lymphatics play a role,” Dr. Rasmussen said. “I think we have barely scratched the surface of what is possible.”

One of the target “diseases and disorders” is lymphedema—chronic swelling, generally in arms or legs, caused by lymphatic blockage. It often occurs after cancer therapy, can be very painful, and can leave limbs disfigured for life. Early detection, before swelling becomes evident, can improve patient outcomes. That’s where NIRFLI could come in.

The CLEO:2014 presentation, titled “Clinical Translation and Discovery with Near-infrared Fluroescence Lymphatic Imaging,” is scheduled for Monday.

Related CME seminar (up to 12 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™): UCSF Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Imaging

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One Response to “Night-Vision Devices Help Image Lymphatic System”

  1. Radiology Daily»AlertArchive » Near-Infrared Scans Help Customize PTSD Care on June 23rd, 2014 at 12:58 pm

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