Tiny lens looks at hearts

The world’s smallest endoscope will soon be predicting the risk of heart attacks

Scientists in Adelaide and Stuttgart are improving heart attack warnings using a new endoscope with a camera lens less than 0.5 mm wide, too small to see with the naked eye.

““A major factor in heart disease is the plaques, made up of fats, cholesterol and other substances that build up in the vessel walls,” explains lead researcher Dr Jiawen Li from the University of Adelaide, who worked with a team from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP).

“Miniaturised endoscopes, which act like tiny cameras, allow doctors to see how these plaques form and explore new ways to treat them,” she says.

“Our device allows cross-sectional visualisation of plaques inside blood vessel walls with high resolution, molecular contrast and sensitivity that are not possible with any other existing technologies,” she says.

Dr Simon Thiele mad the tiny lens at the University of Stuttgart.

“Until now, we couldn’t make high quality endoscopes this small,” Dr Thiele said.

“Using 3D micro-printing, we are now able to print complicated lenses that are too small to see with the naked eye.