New Microscope Enables Needle Free Blood Testing

New Microscope Enables Needle Free Blood Testing

Optical microscopy of blood cells in vivo provides a unique opportunity for clinicians and researchers to visualize the morphology and dynamics of circulating cells, but is usually limited by the imaging speed and by the need for exogenous labeling of the cells. Here we present a label-free approach for in vivo flow cytometry of blood using a compact imaging probe that could be adapted for bedside real-time imaging of patients in clinical settings, and demonstrate subcellular resolution imaging of red and white blood cells flowing in the oral mucosa of a human volunteer. By analyzing the large data sets obtained by the system, valuable blood parameters could be extracted and used for direct, reliable assessment of patient physiology.

OCIS Codes

(170.1470) Medical optics and biotechnology : Blood or tissue constituent monitoring

(170.1610) Medical optics and biotechnology : Clinical applications

(170.1790) Medical optics and biotechnology : Confocal microscopy

ToC Category:



Original Manuscript: March 9, 2012

Revised Manuscript: May 2, 2012

Manuscript Accepted: May 4, 2012

Published: May 21, 2012


Lior Golan, Daniella Yeheskely-Hayon, Limor Minai, Eldad J Dann, and Dvir Yelin, “Noninvasive imaging of flowing blood cells using label-free spectrally encoded flow cytometry,” Biomed. Opt. Express 3, 1455-1464 (2012)

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OSA Journals

Imaging granularity of leukocytes with third harmonic generation microscopy

Biomedical Optics Express, Vol. 3, Iss. 9, pg. 2234 (2012).

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For most people blood tests are synonymous with needle-sticks. However, researchers from the biomedical engineering department at the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) may have found a way to take the pain out of some of our blood tests in the future. The researchers have developed a new microscope that can non-invasively image individual blood cells.

scanned blood cells New Microscope Enables Needle Free Blood TestingThe microscope uses spectrally encoded confocal microscopy (SECM), a technique which allows for 2D spatial imaging of the blood cells. In order to image the moving blood cells, a probe is pressed against the skin which generates a line spectrum of light from red to violet. As blood cells near the surface of the skin cross the projected spectrum they scatter the light, which is collected by the probe and analyzed to generate 2D images of the blood cells.

The researchers have just published details of an early validation study of the microscope in the Optical Society’s (OSA) open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express. Using the device, the researchers scanned blood cells flowing through the lip of a healthy volunteer and measured the average diameter of the red and white blood cells and also calculated the percent volume of the different cell types.

While a number of other blood-scanning systems exist with the capability to image at cell resolution, the researchers believe their device will offer significant advantages in terms of speed, portability and safety. The team is currently working on a second generation device in order to achieve a greater penetration depth for imaging.

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