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Symptom Checker: Identifying Symptoms and Signs of Disease Using Radio Waves

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Posted April 27, 2018

New research and approaches abound. Research in different fields allows discovering patterns which make it possible to effectively improve care; the healthcare system may use them, and achievements can be replicated in healthcare.

Project 5-100 radiophysicists are developing a device for non-invasive diagnostics of blood, cancer and diseases of internal organs using radio waves. The device will allow obtaining accurate images and build three-dimensional models of the human body. In the future it can be used for treatment, directing radio waves at specific parts of the body.

High-frequency radio waves do not penetrate the skin, while radiation weakens quickly and does not reach areas deep inside the body when it penetrates it. Therefore, it does not allow examining internal organs or identifying disorders and malignant neoplasms.

“We have discovered a curious phenomenon related to the so-called skin layer: waves spreading inside the absorbing medium are rapidly weakening. The results show that the skin layer does not form immediately, it is at some distance from the source of radiation, at the edge of a nearby zone,” says Vladimir Yakubov, Professor at Tomsk State University, Russian Academic excellence program (Project 5-100) participant.

In general, the radiation is divided into several parts: the zone close to the source, the Fresnel diffraction zone, and the Fraunhofer diffraction zone. Scientists usually explore the latter, as it is necessary for designing long-distance antennas. According to Vladimir Yakubov, the nearby zone was of little interest, it is usually reduced as it is useless in terms of communication and radiolocation.

According to the radiophysicists, the nearby zone is of key importance for designing a device for non-invasive diagnostics. In an absorbing medium such as the human body the wave begins to spread after the skin layer. Temperature of the necessary area increases, and the reflected radiation can be analyzed.

“By adjusting the size of the nearby zone, we plan to set the skin layer at the edge of blood vessels, which is 0.5-1 cm, and then to the possible tumors: it is tens of centimeters. We plan to get the first results in a year,” says Vladimir Yakubov. “We will choose different radiation frequencies to control the edge of the nearby zone, and then we will create a device for working there. Thus, the waves reflected from the organ or tumor will give us information on the condition of a person’s internal organs, and we will be able to diagnose diseases at an early stage.”

The device can be frequently used for medical purposes, because unlike X-rays, radio waves are safe for humans and do not cause harm. Apart from non-invasive diagnostics, it can be used for treatment, for instance, for treating a specific organ. It can also be useful for geolocation: in geology, archaeology, and ecology.

The research is conducted at the Faculty of Radiophysics of the Tomsk State University and the Siberian Physical Technical Institute.

Source: Project 5-100

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