Image-guided surgery

A new image-guided surgical instrument system will pinpoint the place that surgeons should make a cut on patients who have scar tissue.

A new image-guided surgical instrument system that is currently under development in the US will be able to pinpoint the place that surgeons should make an incision on patients who have scar tissue.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Engineering are developing the Multifunctional Image Guided Surgical (MIGS) system, which integrates a depth-resolved optical imaging system, a laser scalpel, a miniature multi-axis translation system and a control system.

Digant Davé, assistant professor in bioengineering, is leading the team developing the system and has secured two grants totalling $614,000 (£368,950) from the National Institutes of Health to complete its development.

Quite often, patients who have had previous surgeries, radiation treatments, tumours or inflammation have adhesion between different tissues, leaving surgeons without the normal tissue plane guidance they rely upon to identify various organs.

‘(But the new MIGS system) will enable us to see through scar tissue and identify critical regions between delicate structures, then enable us to use a very fine laser to cut through,’ said Dr Edward Livingston, professor and chief of gastrointestinal and endocrine surgery at UT Southwestern and a professor of biomedical engineering. 

‘Imagine a joystick with which the surgeon can position the imager and scalpel at the right location to see buried tissue layers and perform surgery,’ said Davé.

Davé added that the completed MIGS platform will require the development of a compact and robust 3D optical imaging probe and the integration of a fibre laser scalpel with the imaging probe to enable tissue cutting to be made precisely.

The project will be conducted at UT Arlington’s Optical Medical Imaging Laboratories located in the Advanced Imaging Research Center at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Besides Dr Livingston, UT Arlington Bioengineering Prof Liping Tang and Virginia Tech Prof Shashank Priya are collaborating with Davé.

Davé expects to complete the platform within the two-year period covered by the funding grants.