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In Lighting the Path to Innovation Blog
authored by Next Generation Problem Solving: 3d Sensing

Today’s rate of innovation has accelerated the need for critical problem solving and solutions that not only offer resolutions to today’s issues, but a platform for supporting the demands of future ingenuity. As the world develops, applications for fiber optic sensing (FOS) technology continue to grow and the technology delivers solutions to businesses that rely on its unique capabilities across a wide variety of applications. Recent innovations in FOS technology have resulted in enhanced clarity around 3D sensing. Some examples of its use include enabling engineers in offshore oil and gas to monitor the position of robotic tools, and surgeons to operate with pinpoint precision in minimally invasive surgeries. This is just the beginning.

Breakthroughs in 3D sensing have been particularly significant for the medical industry. The introduction and development of endoscopes and modern imaging methods in catheters, angiographs and intravascular ultrasound have dramatically improved the information collected for a more reliable diagnosis. These instruments, which require only a small incision, can remove blockages and deliver medicines, reducing the need for invasive procedures. While endoscopes and imaging catheters provide a new level of diagnosis and treatment, there are a number of impediments to the technology, which have been improved with 3D sensing.

Existing techniques

Without the use of 3D sensing, physicians must manually guide an instrument through the digestive, pulmonary or cardiovascular system. This requires a high level of knowledge and skill from the surgeon who must navigate through the system using a light or lens. Using this method, the physician can only see what is in front of the device and knows only the general location of the instrument.

Another use case involves the use of catheters to navigate through the body for angiography. During this procedure a small amount of agent is periodically released into the body to help determine the catheter’s location. This increases the amount of foreign substances in the body, and as such increases recovery time.

Intravascular Ultrasound imaging, a less common method used for imaging, can provide information about the location of the entire instrument in almost real-time. However, by relying on high-frequency sound pulses it can be difficult to gather clear images from the body. While more conclusive than angiography or other catheter methods, the contrast and resolution of the images are difficult to decipher, requiring longer surgical time for patients.

Harnessing FOS Technology

FOS shape sensors can accurately identify and navigate complex shapes. With a diameter of less than 280 microns, these sensors can safely determine the shape of their path, without unsettling the patient’s body. The data generated can be displayed in real-time to guide the position of the instrument – eliminating the need for foreign chemicals, dyes and radiation. Coupled with the surgeon’s knowledge of the human body, this visual reference improves the overall position of any instrument. FOS systems gather continuous real-time information along the entire length of a medical instrument without the need for X-rays or ultrasounds, reducing the amount of time the body is exposed to harmful materials. These applications make the technology unique from existing techniques on the market.

By using non-invasive techniques, surgeons can operate on patients with less residual damage to the body, avoiding internal bleeding, adhesions, infection or punctures to vital organs. By locating problems and investigating organs via internal tracts, surgeons can limit mistakes and identify the problems, making invasive procedures less risky. The speed (real-time), precision and miniaturization of FOS technology help to ensure that physicians are equipped for success. This makes treatments repeatable and faster for doctors who can operate and ensure greater safety. All of this innovation speeds up recovery times for patients and reduces hospital costs and patient treatment times. Learn more about how Sensuron’s FOS technology can help in medical applications.

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