There are many advanced tools available to medical specialists, such as surgeons, that are not readily available to primary care physicians, despite the fact that the physicians are typically the first to try diagnosing an illness. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as reported by the Optical Society of America, are looking to change that though by creating a new imaging device for physicians.
This new device is like a light-based sonogram as it penetrates the body with near-infrared light instead of sound waves. The time it takes for the light to reflect back to the scanner is measured and processed into an image or 3D model in real-time. Thanks to the relatively small size of the required components, the researchers were able to fit all of this into a handheld device which can be used to examine any part of the body.
The dream is to put this device in the hands of every physician as the tool could be used to monitor for many illnesses, such as diabetes, but without requiring visits to a specialist. Also if a specialist is required, more information could be provided to them by the physician, so the best course of action can be determined more quickly.