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Augmented Endoscopy Technology Offers Live Brain Surgery Visualization

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 07 Sep 2023
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Image: Navigational technology used in self-driving cars aids brain surgery visualization (Photo courtesy of Johns Hopkins)
Image: Navigational technology used in self-driving cars aids brain surgery visualization (Photo courtesy of Johns Hopkins)

When surgeons perform brain surgery, they often need to drill and cut to gain access, which can change the brain's appearance compared to pre-operative images. Current surgical navigation systems use pins and clamps to stabilize the patient's head, but this can lead to complications and longer recovery times. Now, a team of researchers is developing a less invasive solution that does not require additional equipment or expose patients to extra radiation or lengthy scans generally associated with live imaging.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD, USA) and medical device company Medtronic plc (Dublin, Ireland) are jointly developing a real-time guidance system that utilizes an endoscope, an equipment commonly used in neurosurgeries. Their method builds on an advanced computer vision technique known as simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) which is also used in autonomous vehicles. After calibrating the endoscope's video feed, the SLAM algorithm tracks crucial visual details in each frame to determine the endoscope's position and orientation. These details are then converted into a 3D model of the surgical area, which is overlaid onto the real-world video feed, allowing surgeons to visualize specific structures during the procedure in real time.

This highly accurate, state-of-the-art, live surgical visualization method termed "augmented endoscopy," offers exceptional accuracy and is more than 16 times faster than previous computer vision techniques while maintaining sub-millimeter precision. The enhanced accuracy provided by augmented endoscopy may lead to reduced complications, shorter surgery durations, and increased surgical efficiency, not only in neurosurgeries but also in various endoscopic procedures across medical disciplines. The research team is currently collaborating with neurosurgeons at Johns Hopkins Hospital in a clinical study to refine and validate their method for real operating room use. They are also exploring the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning to further enhance the speed and precision of their algorithm in future iterations.

"Our study demonstrates the superiority of this real-time 3D navigation method over current visualization techniques," said Prasad Vagdargi, primary author of the study. "We believe our findings are very important and feel that augmented endoscopy is a technology whose time has now come."

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Johns Hopkins University
Medtronic plc

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