Doctors typically perform a biopsy on a patient in order to diagnose or identify a cancerous tumor, which usually involves using a scalpel to remove a piece of a patient’s skin or tissue. As you might suspect, this can be an uncomfortable, invasive, and time-consuming procedure.
With that in mind, scientists have developed a new “virtual biopsy” device that uses sound vibrations and pulses of near-infrared light to quickly determine a skin lesion’s depth and potential malignancy. The first-of-its-kind experimental procedure, called vibrational optical coherence tomography (VOCT), creates a 3D map of the lesion’s width and depth under the skin with a tiny laser diode. It also uses sound-waves to test the lesion’s density and stiffness since cancer cells are stiffer than healthy cells.
In studies thus far, the device has proven to be accurate in distinguishing between healthy skin and different types of skin tumors in less than fifteen minutes. Now the researchers are waiting for FDA approval for large-scale testing of the device.