Researchers have developed a camera-like imaging device that can be inserted into blood vessels to provide high-quality 3D images to help scientists better understand the causes of heart attack and heart disease progression and could lead to improved treatment and prevention.
The team was able to 3D print a tiny lens onto the end of an optical fiber that is the thickness of a human hair. The imaging device is so small that researchers were able to scan inside the blood vessels of mice.
Preclinical and clinical diagnostics increasingly rely on visualizing the structure of the blood vessels to better understand the disease. Miniaturized endoscopes, which act like tiny cameras, allow doctors to see how plaques form in blood vessels and explore new ways to treat them.
Using 3D micro-printing, the team was able to print complicated lenses that are too small to see with the naked eye. The entire endoscope, with a protective plastic casing, is less than half a millimeter across.