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Virtual biopsy device developed to non-invasively detect skin tumours

Date: 18 June 2019 Tags: Biotechnology

Researchers from United States have developed ‘virtual biopsy’ device that can quickly and non-invasively determine whether skin tumour is cancerous and needs to be removed surgically. This first-of-its-kind experimental procedure is called Vibrational Optical Coherence Tomography (VOCT).


Currently, physicians perform surgical biopsies often do not know the extent of lesion and whether it it is necessary to refer patient to specialist for extensive tissue removal or plastic surgery until surgery has already begun.

Vibrational optical coherence tomography (VOCT)

  • Working: It creates a 3D map of legion’s width and depth under the skin with a tiny laser diode, without using a scalpel. It also makes use of soundwaves to test lesion’s density and stiffness since cancer cells are stiffer than healthy cells.
  • Benefits: This procedure can be completed in 15 minutes with no discomfort to patient, who feels no sensation from light or nearly inaudible sound.
  • Significance: Using sound vibrations and pulses of near-infrared light, VOCT device can determine skin lesion's depth and potential malignancy without using a scalpel. It also has ability to analyse a skin tumour non-invasively could make biopsies much less risky and distressing to patients. Its prototype device is able to accurately distinguish between healthy skin and different types of skin lesions and carcinomas.
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