Fiber optics has been utilized in medical industry since many years. Physical characteristics of fiber render technology an ideal choice for several applications. Usually used for flexible image bundles, flexible light guides, equipment interconnects, illumination, light conductors, and laser delivery systems, fiber optics provide flexibility & compactness for light or data delivery in surgical, equipment, and instrumentation applications.
Optical Fibers for Biomedical Applications
It is a crucial point to note that optical fibers were originally proposed for the purpose of medical endoscopy, prior to their applications in telecommunication. Advances in the field of biomedical has led to integration of several biomedical sensing technologies such as optical, electrochemical, mechanics, electronics and acoustic wave sensing technology. Optical biomedical sensing technology has tremendously enhanced processes & deliveries of healthcare. Biomedical sensing occurs in cells, organs and tissues of the body. Optical sensing technology includes spectroscopy and microscopy techniques, helping to observe a broad range of objects from cells and organs.
Benefits of Optical Fibers in Biomedical Applications Include
- Small size & lightweight
- The connection to patients is non-electrical
- Numerous measurands cab be monitored easily
- Biocompatibility with CT and MRI
- High immunity of optical fibers to electromagnetic interferences, enabling its utilization in high radiofrequency or electromagnetic environments
- A technique that is non-invasive or minimally invasive, owing to the penetrating inherent properties of light
Global Medical Fiber Optics Market Expected to Register 6% CAGR through 2024
The growth of the global medical fiber optics market is primarily driven by increasing applications of fiber optic products across many medical domains, according to a study by Persistence Market Research (PMR). PMR’s report depicts that the global medical fiber optics market is projected to register a healthy growth at 6% CAGR and is poised to reach US$ 1,544.7 Mn by 2024. Growing prevalence of gastrointestinal diseases is expected to drive the demand for fiber optics in the near future. In addition, sensor-based component technology is witnessing an incessant development, which is further estimated to boost the demand for medical fiber optics.
Fiber Optics for Minimally Invasive Surgeries
Optical fibers have the ability of offering highly advanced functionality through utilization of their inherent sensitivity to pressure, strain, and temperature. The main area of medical industry where the demand for fiber-optic sensors is witnessing an upsurge with technological developments is the minimally invasive surgery. The advantages of MIS is currently well founded, encouraging manufacturers of surgical tools for investing in new technological developments for pioneering new MIS procedures or for improving existing procedures. Some fiber-optic technologies developed for minimally invasive surgeries are mentioned below.
- 3D Shape Sensing– Currently, dominant methods for visualizing progress of catheter include MRI, CT, ultrasound, and X-rays. Each of these equipment depict significant drawbacks such as exposure to radiations, and wearing heavy protective clothing, in case of an X-ray. This has necessitated the development of fiber-optic 3D shape sensing technology for enabling dramatic reduction in necessity for prolonged exposure to visualization methods, as optical fiber is able to track itself in three dimensions and hence, if laid within catheter, is capable of recreating shape of catheter.
- Pressure Sensing– Optical fibers possess the ability of getting optimized for being sensitive to hydrostatic pressures, which a body experiences within. This results into various biomedical applications such as precise measurement & location of pressure fluctuations within an artery, indicating coronary artery disease causing heart attacks, and carotid artery disease causing strokes.
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