Augmented Microscope

Technology #ua10-104

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Christian Gainer
Imaging Specialist, Optometry
Marek Romanowski
Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Managed By
Rakhi Gibbons
Asst. Director, Life Sciences (520) 626-6695

Background:  An increasing number of analytical methods in medicine, forensics, material science, biology, and art preservation utilize image analysis. Frequently images may not necessarily be derive from visible radiation, but rather results of advance acquisition or processing methods, examples include computer tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, or thermal imaging. Interpretation of said images requires alignment of computer generated images with visual images via reference control points, anatomical features, or the like, so that correct anotomic positions can be identified. Merger or fusion of imaging modalities occurs in situations such as a physician performing microsurgery through a surgical microscope, wherein he compairs the visual image field with a pre-recorded CT image displayed on a computer screen in the operation suite.  Augmented reality systems that allows surgeons to view features from preoperative radiological images can accurately overlaid in stereo in the optical path of a surgical microscope. The purpose of said systems is to show the surgeon structures beneath the viewed surface in the correct 3-D position. The technical challenges of such systems are registration, tracking, calibration and visualisation.

Invention: This augmented microscope simultaneously performs two imaging modalities, traditional imaging with visible light and imaging using near-infrared radiation. The near infrared image is processed to generate a color-coded visible image and merged with the visible light image in the optical path of the microscope, thus producing an augmented visual image of the specimen.

Applications: This invention provides a biological/medical microscope wherein the user can simultaneously view visible and a co-registered NIR or fluorescence images simultaneously.  The augmented microscope has potential application in image-guided clinical interventions, such as microsurgical treatment of cancer. While many advances have been made in the diagnosis and characterization of cancer, early-stage treatment of the disease often employs surgical excision of the tumor. An augmented microscope with a properly selected probe, or contrast agent, will reduce the surgical margin needed to ensure complete excision, reduce operation time, and potentially improve the outcome of surgery.

Advantages: This invention overcomes several shortcomings of present technologies. Present technologies of this type do not perform spatial co-registration of visible and near infrared images, do not operate in real-time, and fluorescence-based modalities require dark rooms for proper acquisition.

Status:  A prototype of this technology has been demonstrated and continued development is underway. The UA Office of Technology Transfer filed a PPA with the USPTO. We seek development partners and industrial manufactures of surgical or research microscopes that are interested in expanding their product lines.

Lead Inventor:  Marek Romanowski

Licensing Information:  Please contact Eugene Cochran for further information referencing UA Case No.:  UA10-104.