New Technique Against Cancer

The technique, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), is an increasingly popular method for looking beneath the surface of certain materials, notably human tissue. It is higher resolution and much quicker than techniques such as MRI or ultrasound, with no ionising radiation, making it ideal for detecting changes in tissue structure which can indicate the early stages of cancer.

However creating such images requires high precision, and any inaccuracy can lead to incorrect assumptions about cell disruption. This can mean missing opportunities for early, potentially life-saving treatment.

A new NPL product, called a 'point-spread phantom', will eliminate the risk of such errors. The phantoms are translucent cylinders of resin containing specially arranged particles designed to reflect light in a very specific way. By viewing the phantom with an OCT machine and analysing the image with NPL software, users can be certain the machine is producing accurate images, which they can rely on for important medical decisions.

These 'phantoms' will also allow manufacturers of OCT technology to meet the necessary standards to guarantee to hospitals that their machines are sufficiently accurate. This will help speed the route to market of products using this important new technology, and assure hospitals of their ongoing reliability.; Source: National Physical Laboratory