A new device could help doctors simplify and improve the accuracy of gout diagnosing. Gout is a painful form of arthritis that is caused by the crystallization of uric acid in joints, tendons, and ligaments. These crystalized deposits trigger severe inflammation and painful swelling that can make it difficult to perform simple everyday tasks. The CDC estimates that there around 8 million adults living with gout in the US.
Current gout diagnosing methods involve extracting joint fluid from the patient and then using a specialized compensated polarized light microscope that allows doctors to see the crystalized uric acid. However, this method uses machines that can cost upwards of $20,000, is time-consuming, and often provides unreliable test results that make it difficult for doctors to diagnose the patient accurately. However, new lensfree on-chip microscopy technology developed by researchers at UCLA could help mobilize and improve the accuracy of gout diagnosing for patients.
Gout Condition Diagram
Lensfree On-Chip Microscopy Technology
This new gout diagnostic device uses holographic imaging to render high-resolution images of the crystallized deposits from extracted fluid samples. This innovative holographic technology works by delivering a stream of light into a polarizer and through the sample joint fluid placed under a microscope. The sample fluid then goes through a second polarizer before reaching sensor microchip on the device that can capture the holographic diffraction patterns captured through the sample. Once these patterns are processed, it goes into a computer that has the capability of analyzing large samples rapidly.
This innovative technology will enable doctors to perform gout diagnostic services more quickly, and with far greater accuracy when compared to other methods. Beyond gout, this technology could also serve as a diagnostic tool for other conditions, such as kidney stones, that form crystal structures. For patients, this accurate and efficient diagnostic machine could help speed up treatment recommendations to minimize the effects of gout.