Called Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Microscopy, ISAM can do for optical microscopy what magnetic resonance imaging did for nuclear magnetic resonance, and what computed tomography did for X-ray imaging, the scientists say. "ISAM can perform high-speed, micron-scale, cross-sectional imaging without the need for time-consuming processing, sectioning and staining of resected tissue," said Stephen Boppart, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, of bioengineering, and of medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The imaging technique utilizes a broad-spectrum light source and a spectral interferometer to obtain high-resolution, reconstructed images from the optical signals based on an understanding of the physics of light-scattering within the sample. "ISAM has the potential to broadly impact real-time, three-dimensional microscopy and analysis in the fields of cell and tumour biology, as well as in clinical diagnosis where imaging is preferable to biopsy," said Boppart.

While other methods of three-dimensional optical microscopy require the instrument's focal plane to be scanned through the region of interest, ISAM works by utilizing light from the out-of-focus image planes, postdoctoral research associate and lead author Tyler Ralston said. "Although most of the image planes are blurry, ISAM descrambles the light to produce a fully focused, three-dimensional image."

ISAM effectively extends the region of the image that is in focus, using information that was discarded in the past. “ISAM can assist doctors by providing faster diagnostic information, and by facilitating the further development of image-guided surgery," Boppart said. "Using ISAM, it may be possible to perform micron-scale imaging over large volumes of tissue rather than resecting large volumes of tissue."

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign