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lung xray

Hair-sized probe developed to detect signs of lung damage

Image credit: Dreamstime

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have developed a hair-sized probe that can help to measure tissue damage deep in the lung.

The new technology could pave the way for accurate monitoring of tissue in areas where existing technologies cannot reach.

The probe comprises an optical fibre about 0.2mm in diameter, with 19 sensors that can measure different indicators in tissue such as acidity and oxygen levels.

It can pick up tiny changes in tissue health and could improve how patients are assessed and treated, specifically those on ventilators in intensive care.

lung probe

Image credit: Michael Tanner, Herriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh

Dr Michael Tanner, a proteus research fellow at Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh, said: “This research is a great example of collaboration across disciplines to tackle healthcare challenges.

“These new methods, if taken to clinic, will lead to novel insights in disease biology. Our aim now is to expand the number of unique sensors on this miniaturised platform to provide even more information.”

The researchers have designed the technology to offer fast, accurate measurements and the flexibility to add more sensors.

Experts say the technology is widely applicable to other regions of the body and could be used to aid the understanding of inflammatory and bacterial diseases.

In 2016, engineers developed a system, dubbed the SpiroCall, which measures the lung function of people with conditions such as asthma or cystic fibrosis by blowing into any type of phone.

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