For those who don’t know about it, Gout is a form of arthritis that is characterized by severe pain and limitation movement, and for those who suffer from it, it is the possible equivalent of hell on earth.
As we often say with most diseases like this, early diagnosis can really help control the damage that neglect can wreak on the human body.
But, just like many other diseases, the diagnostic tools for gout, in their current state aren’t as accurate as one would hope they would be.
In it’s current iteration, gout diagnosis is carried out by spotting monosodium urate crystals within the synovial fluid that is taken from a patients’ joints.
This spotting process is taken care of by a compensated polarized light microscope (CPLM), which as you would expect, is a device that is both large and heavy.
Not to mention that the devices also has a very narrow field of view, which makes it difficult to see the sample properly, thus increasing the time and effort it takes for diagnosis.
To remove these limitations in order to bring the diagnostic technology to it’s full potential, researchers from the University Of California have been working on a new type of Holographic Microscope.
This new device features a lens-free polarized design that offers a wider field of view and higher resolution than it’s predecessors. Not to mention that it also has a higher color contrast level.
Since it doesn’t feature a lens in it’s design, the system instead relies on passing light through the sample which is sandwiched between two polarizers. Once going through this setup, the light is then captured by an optical sensor.
The data collected by this process is then processed by a computer to create an image that has at least 100 times more field of view than traditional imaging.
The image is also always in focus and supports a higher resolution, so that it becomes easier to detect the crystals, making diagnosis more fast and accurate.
In addition to all these features, what really makes this a great innovation is the fact that it is also a lot more lighter and smaller than existing microscopes, so it can be easily moved to different locations for easier diagnosis.
The team has yet to declare exactly when this device will be ready for mass adoption, but whenever that happens, it will definitely make life better for a lot of gout patients.