Biophotonics-enabled device could eliminate unnecessary thyroid nodule surgery

A team of researchers from the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) and the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS; both in Barcelona, Spain) is developing a portable biophotonics-enabled device with a handheld probe that will dramatically reduce invasive diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in the treatment of potentially cancerous thyroid nodules.

The Photonics PPP and EU-funded Laser and Ultrasound Co-analyzer for Thyroid Nodules (LUCA) device is built to make thyroid nodule diagnosis more accurate and more objective.

"The LUCA platform combines ultrasound and near-infrared diffuse optical technologies in a single device and a probe," explains Turgut Durduran, ICREA Professor at ICFO and the scientific coordinator of LUCA. "By combining information about tissue hemodynamics, chemical constitution, as well as anatomy, the technique used by this device will overcome the shortcomings of present techniques while screening for malignant thyroid nodules."

Small in size, the LUCA probe is placed on the neck of the patient, sending light and ultrasound of different wavelengths and frequencies into the skin. "Ultrasound sees the structure and light sees the physiology, meaning we can see in much more detail than ever before," says Dr. Mireia Mora from IDIBAPS.

The LUCA device's implications are extremely promising since it will not only signify a change in thyroid cancer screening techniques, but it may also have a potential use in the diagnosis of other cancers, such as the breast or any part of the body that is accessible.

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