Novel Endoscopic Imaging System Outperforms Current Systems

An innovative endoscopic imaging system with a design that could speed up the deployment of multi-tracer fluorescence-guided surgery (FGS) was described by a research team.

The unique hexa-chromatic bioinspired imaging sensor (BIS), which the researchers based on the visual system of the mantis shrimp, is at the core of this design. The sensor consists of two checkerboard-like arrangements of two distinct filters, one of which filters near-infrared (NIR) light and the other of which filters visible light. The sensor is made up of three layers of vertically stacked photodetectors.

As a result, a single-chip camera that can successfully collect light on six separate spectral channels may detect even the most minute variations in fluorescence emission from the tissue being scanned. This BIS can distinguish fluorescent tracers with emission peaks only 20 nanometers (nm) apart, putting its performance into context. With today’s imaging technology that has received clinical approval, such a feat is not feasible.     

The researchers used their endoscope to examine lung cancer nodules recently excised from patients to demonstrate the endoscope’s clinical usefulness. The suggested gadget could accurately differentiate cancerous nodules from healthy tissue even though these patients only had one fluorescent tracer injection.

Overall, the researchers made significant technical advances that will open the door to the widespread use of multi-tracer FGS. The suggested endoscopic imaging system will make it easier for doctors to find smaller or otherwise hidden cancers due to its better spatial resolution and extraordinary ability to detect minute fluctuations in fluorescence emission.

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