Fiber optics are utilized in the medical field for many purposes, including flexible light guides and image bundles as well as for illumination and laser delivery systems. Because fiber optics work well as a conduit for light or data, being compact and flexible, they are incorporated into medical equipment, instruments, and surgical procedures.
Did you ever go for hair or tattoo removal and the technician used some sort of “light wand” over your skin? Chances are, you experienced fiber optics in action!
Where Fiber Optics Are Used in the Medical Field
Where are you highly likely to see fiber optics in action? From x-ray imaging to dental handpieces, all sorts of medical personnel benefit from using them. Surgeons, dentists, lab technicians, and even eye doctors all typically use fiber optics in their daily work these days. Furthermore, those involved in very specific medical research use fiber optics to help test new theories and try out new instruments and procedures. These applications for fiber optics typically get both precise and unique, such that specialty products are used which may or may not be common elsewhere. “Customizable technology” is a good way to think of what’s available in the field of medical research thanks to the incorporation of fiber optics. Many colleges have labs full of machines utilizing fiber optics. You’re also going to find that hospitals, in particular, do as well.
Just to give you an idea of some specific medical scopes using fiber optics, here’s a short list:
- Laryngoscope- for working on vocal cords
- Anoscope – to help check inside the anus
- Otoscope-to help see the auditory canal
- Ophthalmoscope- to see in the eye
- Amnioscope-to help see the fetus in the amniotic sac
Medical Scopes and Fiber Optics
Remember in the 1980s when you’d be on a city street and you’d see a TV news station’s cameraman? He’d be carrying a camera with some sort of light source on it to help illuminate the subject. At the time, the light and the camera were relatively big and bulky– you couldn’t easily hide carrying those contraptions. Now think about today and how people can carry small smartphones in their pocket which can use a flash if needed to help shed light on a subject. Just like “everyday” picture and video cameras have benefited from having a “bonus” light source, today’s medical scopes and such do too. If doctors desire to clearly see the details of what’s going on inside someone’s body/body parts, fiber optics help get the job done efficiently. You’d be amazed at what shows up thanks to great lighting!
Fiber Optic Layers
Fiber optics has layers. The core is usually made of silica doped with germanium. Then there’s the fiber cladding, made of either pure silica or polymer material. An outer layer, referred to as the coating or buffer, is used for mechanical protection of the fiber. Coatings can be made from medical grade PVC or, perhaps, biocompatible coatings such as silicone or acrylate. For medical purposes, which often involve bending, twisting and spinning, bend insensitive fibers are used, providing excellent signal quality. Imagine if you were a surgeon, trying to perform a delicate operation, and suddenly the lights went out– it could be a disaster. Thanks to modern advances in technology, using fiber optics, lighting a patient has never been better.
How Connected Fiber Can Help
Connected Fiber of Leland, North Carolina, fixes fiber problems. The company also does fiber splicing, fiber testing, and emergency restoration. Though not focused on the medical industry, think of Connected Fiber as a company to go to if you ever have a question about something–anything–you think utilizes fiber optics. You can call Connected Fiber at 910-443-0532.
Finally, when looking for silica optical fibers for use in medical situations, make sure that the supplier can provide quality support as well as ISO 13485 certification. There should also have been FDA 510(k) approval. Other questions to ask include: “Did you maintain biocompatibility test records and certificates?”; “Can you show design and process validation plans?”; and “Have you maintained device history records for an established period of time?” All these questions relate to “best practices” to help ensure you’re getting fibers of the utmost quality.
The world keeps changing, and fiber optics help it change for the better– today the technology is much more advanced than just a few decades ago. Anytime you visit a dentist or doctor, you’re probably going to be near fiber optics whether you realize it or not.