Most of us are by now familiar with the extraordinary pictures of the inside of the body that can be produced by 3-D x-ray CT imaging and MRI. However, although these images are extremely good for detecting large and medium sized tumours, it is often not easy to be sure what type of tumour is being shown on the images and often not possible at all for very small tumours. The gold standard for the final assessment of the exact type and grade of tumour is still often the microscopic examination of tissue samples extracted by biopsy.
These 2-D microscopy images use visible light and the samples are stained to show up particular types of cell. However, 3-D medical imaging using visible light is not widely used in hospitals for the simple reason that our bodies are opaque to visible light. Nevertheless, the information that can be gained from visible light imaging is so important that a number of remarkable imaging techniques have been developed.
This talk will explore among others optical computed tomography (the analogue of x-ray CT), diffuse optical tomography and opto-acoustic imaging and optical coherence tomography, using examples taken from both cancer applications and the wider field of medical imaging.