A camera that can see through the human body has been developed by the scientists at the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University.
The new device has been designed to help doctors track medical tools, known as endoscopes, during internal examinations.
Until now, doctors have had to rely on expensive scans, such as X-rays, to trace their progress.
The new camera works by detecting light sources inside the body, such as the illuminated tip of the endoscope’s long flexible tube.
Prof. Kev Dhaliwal from the University of Edinburgh said: “It has immense potential for diverse applications, such as the one described in this work.
“The ability to see a device’s location is crucial for many applications in healthcare, as we move forwards with minimally invasive approaches to treating disease.”
Image source MaxPixel
Early tests have shown the prototype device can track a point light source through 20cm of tissue under normal conditions.
Beams from the endoscope can pass through the body, but usually scatter or bounce off tissues and organs rather than travelling straight through.
That makes it problematic to get a clear picture of where the tool is.
The new camera can detect individual particles, called photons, and is so sensitive it can catch tiny traces of light passing through tissue.
The device can also record the time taken for light to pass through the body, meaning it is able to work out exactly where the endoscope is.
Researchers have developed the new camera so it can be used at the patient’s bedside.
The project is part of the Proteus Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration, which is developing a range of new technologies for diagnosing and treating lung diseases.
Dr. Michael Tanner from Heriot-Watt University said: “My favorite element of this work was the ability to work with clinicians to understand a practical healthcare challenge, then tailor advanced technologies and principles that would not normally make it out of a physics lab to solve real problems.
“I hope we can continue this interdisciplinary approach to make a real difference in healthcare technology.”
According to a University of Edinburgh study, learning a second language can have a positive effect on the brain, even if it is taken up in adulthood.
Researchers found that reading, verbal fluency and intelligence were improved in a study of 262 people tested either aged 11 or in their seventies.
A previous study suggested that being bilingual could delay the onset of dementia by several years.
The study is published in Annals of Neurology.
The big question in this study was whether learning a new language improved cognitive functions or whether individuals with better cognitive abilities were more likely to become bilingual.
Dr. Thomas Bak, from the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said he believed he had found the answer.
Learning a second language can have a positive effect on the brain, even if it is taken up in adulthood
Using data from intelligence tests on 262 Edinburgh-born individuals at the age of 11, the study looked at how their cognitive abilities had changed when they were tested again in their seventies.
The research was conducted between 2008 and 2010.
All participants said they were able to communicate in at least one language other than English.
Of that group, 195 learned the second language before the age of 18, and 65 learned it after that time.
The findings indicate that those who spoke two or more languages had significantly better cognitive abilities compared to what would have been expected from their baseline test.
The strongest effects were seen in general intelligence and reading.
The effects were present in those who learned their second language early, as well as later in life.
Dr. Thomas Bak said the pattern they found was “meaningful” and the improvements in attention, focus and fluency could not be explained by original intelligence.
“These findings are of considerable practical relevance. Millions of people around the world acquire their second language later in life. Our study shows that bilingualism, even when acquired in adulthood, may benefit the aging brain.”
However, Dr. Thomas Bak admitted that the study also raised many questions, such as whether learning more than one language could also have the same positive effect on cognitive ageing and whether actively speaking a second language is better than just knowing how to speak it.
Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, US, said: “The epidemiological study provides an important first step in understanding the impact of learning a second language and the ageing brain.
“This research paves the way for future causal studies of bilingualism and cognitive decline prevention.”
According to a Scottish research, the cheap inflatable leg wraps may save the lives of patients after a stroke.
The devices regularly squeeze the legs to keep blood flowing and prevent formation of fatal blood clots.
A trial with 2,876 patients, published in the Lancet, showed there were fewer clots with the wraps.
The UK’s Stroke Association said the results were “extremely encouraging” and had the potential to save thousands of lives.
A clot in the leg, a deep vein thrombosis, is normally associated with long flights, but is a problem for hospital patients unable to move.
Doctors at Western General Hospital and the University of Edinburgh said compression socks did not improve survival and clot-busting drugs led to other problems, including bleeding on the brain.
They tested the devices, which fit around the legs and fill with air every minute. They compress the legs and force the blood back to the heart.
They were worn for a month or until the patient recovered and was able to move again.
In the study, 8.5% of patients using the compression device developed blood clots, compared with 12.1% of patients who were treated normally.
According to a Scottish research, the cheap inflatable leg wraps may save the lives of patients after a stroke
Prof. Martin Dennis said: “At last we have a simple, safe and affordable treatment that reduces the risk of deep vein thrombosis and even appears to reduce the risk of dying after a stroke.
“We estimate that this treatment could potentially help about 60,000 stroke patients each year in the UK.
“If this number were treated, we would prevent about 3,000 developing a deep vein thrombosis and perhaps save 1,500 lives.”
He said the system should also be tested in other immobile patients, such as those with pneumonia.
Prof. Tony Rudd, who chairs the Intercollegiate Stroke Guideline Group at the Royal College of Physicians, said: “This study is a major breakthrough showing how a simple and safe treatment can save lives.
“It is one of the most important research studies to emerge from the field of stroke in recent years.”
Dr. Dale Webb, of the Stroke Association charity, said: “The results of this research are extremely encouraging and show that using a compression device on the legs of patients at risk of developing blood clots could be a more effective treatment.
“This new device has the potential to save thousands of lives and we would like to see it incorporated into national clinical guidelines.”