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DiMarzio, Charles A. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts.
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The need for medical diagnosis continues to demand new technologies for noninvasive imaging of the human body. While all imaging modalities continue to improve, there is an increasing emphasis on combining them in novel ways to take advantage of the best characteristics of each. Light is perhaps the oldest of medical tools. Lacking more advanced technologies, early practitioners were sensitive to the visual signatures of the patient such as skin color. Recently, technologies such as diffusive optical tomography (DOT) have led to imaging of hemoglobin concentration and oxygenation through the use of multiple wavelengths of light, and have improved resolution and depth of penetration. Sound also played an important role in early medicine, significantly advanced by R. T. H. Laennec's invention of the stethoscope in 1816. Modern uses of sound arrived with ultrasound imaging in the 1950s. The combination of light and sound is a relatively new field of medical imaging. In acoustooptic imaging, sound is used to tag light as it propagates in the human body. The goal is to combine the ability of light to characterize materials such as hemoglobin with the spatial resolution of ultrasound.
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