Using lights of varying wavelengths could help clinicians assess tissue damage with greater accuracy.

A study of seven patients published online in Wounds Epub in May found an alternative light source, and a camera revealed the scope and magnitude of tissue trauma, absorbing light to leave dark “evidence” at injury sites among those with scars, previous injury or pigmentary changes.

“These combined findings indicate that ALS can detect tissue trauma and areas at risk not readily visible by the naked eye,” wrote lead researcher Heather Hettrick, PT, Ph.D., CWS, associate professor at Nova Southeastern University. “This noninvasive tool could help identify patients in the early stages of tissue trauma… and improving outcomes and quality of life.”

Hettrick’s team photographed patients’ heels in ambient light to establish a baseline, then tested the same anatomy with violet, blue and green wavelengths over six weeks.

Forensic scientists routinely use ultraviolet and infrared light to collect evidence such as fingerprints and body fluids that are invisible to the eye. This study used a SPEX Forensics Mini-CrimeScope, a large machine that required fans to cool it during operation.

A follow-up study will explore the practicality of a handheld ALS device, which could be a less expensive, more user-friendly alternative.