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Terra Incognita: Potential Uses of Optical Spectroscopy for Combat Casualty Care
ARMY MEDICAL RESEARCH AND MATERIEL COMMAND FORT DETRICK MD TELEMEDICINE AND ADVANCED TECH RESEARCH CENTER
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Conventional medical imaging modalities currently revolve around magnetic resonance imaging MRI, ultrasound or radiographic techniques. While each of these has added significant value to healthcare today, none of these techniques singlehandedly reveals the complete details regarding a patients physiological status or injury. Secondly, these techniques do not easily lend themselves to use in remote areas or the battlefield. This can be due to a combination of power requirements, durability and sizeweight. Techniques such as ultrasound represent a significant alternative, but also come with tradeoffs, such as sensitivity to artifacts and decreased spatial resolution as compared to computed tomography or MRI. With respect to combat casualty care there is a strong need to develop a new generation of tools that matches or betters the spatial resolution of CTMRI while retaining the portability and higher durability of ultrasound devices. Methods using photons in the range of wavelengths between 200 and 16,000 nanometers may offer a favourable combination of attributes to detect and diagnose morbidities associated with the battlefield. These techniques are particularly good at surface imaging and therefore applicable to burns and infections. This paper will describe relevant methods that use these photons for biomedical applications, discuss roadblocks for translation out of the clinic, and describe the potential future of these techniques with respect to combat casualty care on and off the battlefield. This will be a review of most of the current relevant literature for optical spectroscopy within the context of currently identified military needs that are addressable by this group of techniques. Optical imaging presents significant assets to support ongoing medical operations on and off the battlefield. New technologies and methods of data processing and analysis could lead to applications ranging from burn assessment to the monitoring of skin infections.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE