The Institute for Basic Science (IBS) said its research team had developed an ultra-thin and flexible endoscope that is thinner than a needle.
The research team, led by Choi Won-shik from the Center for Molecular Spectroscopy and Dynamics at IBS and Professor Choi Young-woon of Bioengineering from Korea University, said they were able to obtain 3D holographic images of a biological structure smaller than that of bacteria. using this endoscope.
IBS noted that the ultra-thin endoscope increases the possibility of early diagnosis of diseases with minimal incision to reach the lungs, capillaries, brain and nervous system that were previously difficult to access with conventional endoscopes.
The research team used a bundle of bare fibers as thin as 200 μm in diameter to design a lensless holographic imaging setup and selectively detected faint reflections from biological tissues, according to their paper.
This was a “critical step” in achieving label-free endoscopic reflectance imaging, the research team said.
The diameter of the endoscope is 350μm, thinner than that of a 500μm needle.
The latest endoscope is capable of providing high resolution imaging at the microscopic level, which cannot be done with a conventional fiber optic bundle endoscope.
The research team said they demonstrated endoscopic reflectance imaging of unstained villi of a rat intestine that are completely invisible to conventional endoscopes.
“The proposed endoscope will accelerate more accurate and earlier diagnosis than before with minimal complications,” the research team said.
The study was published in the August 2 online issue of Nature Communications.