Examining the gastrointestinal tract can help to find the cause of many health conditions, including those where patients have difficulty swallowing. However, techniques for gastrointestinal imaging are fairly rudimentary. Because of the contoured shape of the GI tract and its large size, it can be difficult to get a complete, clear image. However, scientists at the University of Buffalo have developed a new technique which uses encapsulated dyes and provides an image with better resolution.
The technique uses naphthalocyanine dyes encapsulated in nanoparticles (known as nanonaps) as a contrast for photoacoustic imaging. The nanoparticle capsules help to keep the dyes from being absorbed by the body, but maintained the photoacoustic properties and moved easily through the GI tract. The technique has only been tried in laboratory mice so far, but the resulting images have been shown to be more clear than any current techniques used.