Optical fibers that promote medicine

Medical devices for direct observation of internal organs, sensors for reliable blood analysis, and laser systems for internal surgery — all these tools are based on the technology of optical fibers. To be more precise, inserting optical fibers into natural holes or small incisions and passing them through channels in the human body allow doctors to carefully examine the bronchi of the lungs, intestinal folds, heart chambers, and numerous other internal organs that were previously unavailable for such accurate observation.

It should be noted that most diagnostic and therapeutic procedures based on the fiber optic technology do not require pain relief and can be performed reliably and without risk to health even in the doctor’s office; therefore, further development of fiber optic systems should reduce the risk and cost of medical care in whole.

Herewith, the production of ultra-thin optical fibers developed in recent years has allowed to reduce the diameter of fiberscopes and increase the number of optical fibers in the fiber optic bundle for observations, which in turn has improved its resolution. For instance, the latest fiberscopes contain up to 10,000 optical fibers in a bundle less than one millimeter in diameter. At the same time, this fiber optic system can cut objects with cross dimensions of 70 microns. Such a fiberscope based on fiber optic technology, inserted through an artery on a person’s shoulder, can transmit images of heart valves, as well as blockages in the coronary arteries — the vessels that supply the heart with blood.

The optical fibers in a sensor can measure pressure in the arteries, bladder, and urethra. The sensor consists of a tube attached to the end of the fiber optic bundle, the far end of which is sealed with a thin reflective membrane. When the pressure outside the tube is greater than inside, the membrane bends inward, forming a convex mirror that reflects only part of the light back into the optical fiber. If the pressure outside the tube is lower than inside, the membrane bends outward and the resulting concave mirror focuses more light into the optical fiber.

In recent years, the most significant application of fiber optic systems in medicine has been the transfer of laser radiation energy inside the human body for surgical and therapeutic purposes. The problem of transmitting high-power laser radiation through optical fibers has been the subject of close attention of specialists over the past two decades. 

All optical fibers to some extent weaken the radiation passing through them because of absorption and scattering. This attenuation is partly due to the intrinsic properties of the material of the fiber optic system, it depends on the wavelength of light and the power of the transmitted radiation. The energy of the laser beam can also be weakened as a result of scattering on the surface of the optical fiber or on defects inside it. 

All these reasons limit the power level of laser radiation that can be transmitted through the optical fiber to the operation site. If the power of the radiation introduced into the fiber optic system exceeds a certain critical level, its ends may overheat, melt, and even evaporate. Finally, many of these challenges have been overcome by the discovery of new materials for fiber optic systems and the development of methods for manufacturing high-purity optical fibers from these materials.

If you would like to obtain an optical fiber product, you should choose the Optromix company. Optromix is a provider of top quality special fibers and broad spectra optical fiber solutions. The company delivers the best quality special fibers and fiber optic cables, fiber optic bundles, spectroscopy fiber optic probes, probe couplers, and accessories for process spectroscopy to clients. If you have any questions or would like to buy an optical fiber, please contact us at info@optromix.com

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