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Psoriasis (Psoriasis vulgaris) is an inflammatory skin disease that is characterized by small to palm-sized patches of severely scaling skin. The disease is estimated to affect between ten and fifteen million people in the European Union.
Currently, physicians evaluate the severity of the disease based on visual assessment of features of the skin surface, such as redness or thickness of the flaking skin. "Unfortunately, these standards miss all parameters that lie below the surface of the skin, and may be subjective," Dr. Juan Aguirre points out. "Knowing the structure of the skin and vessels before treatment can provide the physician with useful information," explains the group leader at the Institute of Biological and Medical Imaging (IBMI) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München.
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In order to provide clinicians with this information, Aguirre and his team developed a new technique that gets under the skin. It bears the name RSOM and works as follows: A weak laser pulse excites the tissue of interest, which then absorbs energy and heats up minimally. This causes momentary tissue expansion, which generates ultrasound waves. The scientists measure these ultrasound signals and use this information to reconstruct a high resolution image of what lies under the skin.
While developing the method,...
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