According to a story from bioengineer.org, a new bacterial imaging tool has been deemed to be safe and practical device for used in the medical setting, a recent study claims. This imaging tool offers substantial advantages over current technology, particularly in detecting lung infections associated with the rare lung disease bronchiectasis, as well as other bacterial lung infections.
Bronchiectasis is a disease of the lung which is most characterized by the permanent enlargement of certain areas of the lung’s air passages. This illness can be both acquired or congenital. It often appears as the result of other diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and many others. Heroin, alcoholism, and inhalation of toxic gases like ammonia can also increase the risk. There are also several genetic disorders and conditions that increase the risk, such as immunodeficiency, Marfan syndrome, and Young’s syndrome. In many cases, the cause is unknown. Symptoms include coughing up mucus, lung infections, clubbed digits, wheezing, chest pain, coughing up blood, and shortness of breath. Treatments include inhaled steroids, postural drainage, antibiotics, and surgery. The exact frequency of this disease is not well known. To learn more about bronchiectasis, click here.
New Tech, Better Capabilities
This new technology works by praying chemical probes into the lungs of a patient. When these probes come into contact with infectious bacteria, they illuminate, which is then detected with fiber optic tubes inserted in the lungs. This imaging tool can detect lung infections in less than a minute. This is vast a improvement compared to current procedures. Doctors usually detect infections by testing fluid from a patient’s lung, but it can take days for the results of these tests to be completed, and they are not always very accurate. X-rays can also detect infections and they can do so quickly, but they are highly sensitive and can make an infection appear worse than it actually is, causing doctors to prescribe an excessively powerful regimen of antibiotics.
This imaging tech is also capable of finding infections farther down within the lung, which is very difficult to do with current approaches. A number of bronchiectasis patients were among the first humans to test the technology. The tool was able to detect infections in patients who had previously been cleared as infection-free.