Antti-Pekka Elomaa, Docent of Experimental Neurosurgery: Hyperspectral imaging improves surgical outcomes regardless of specialty

Author and photo: Henna Lusa

Kuopio University Hospital’s Microsurgery Center, researchers from the University of Eastern Finland and Senop have engaged in collaboration to develop a version of the HSC-2 hyperspectral camera that is suitable for use in operating rooms. The camera is easy to attach to an operating microscope and does not pose challenges to surgery ergonomics.

An operating microscope is brought from the operating room to the facilities of the Eastern Finland Microsurgery Center located at the Kuopio University Hospital. Antti-Pekka Elomaa, Docent of Experimental Neurosurgery, doctoral researcher Sami Puustinen and Paavo Julkunen, Optical Designer at Senop, mount a Senop HSC-2 hyperspectral camera to the microscope. Their intention is to look how the focus of the hyperspectral camera and surgical microscope works and to see the camera’s live functionality.

Senop and the Microsurgery Center have a long history of collaboration in the field of medical research on hyperspectral imaging. By iterating together, i.e., by jointly developing the product in stages, they have come very close to a solution that can be utilised in surgeries. The hyperspectral camera is equipped with a C-mount mechanism compatible with several cameras and microscopes.

An integral part of future operating room equipment

The Microsurgery Center is a meeting place for clinical medicine professionals, researchers and technology companies. Spectral imaging, 3D modelling, and eye-tracking technologies improve the surgeon’s ability to visualize brain and tissue structures and plan the procedures to be performed. There are both surgical operating microscopes and endoscopic instruments available that are used in endoscopic surgery.

In 2017, Senop’s solution won the competitive tendering for cameras carried out by the Microsurgery Center as part of a project of the Region of North Savo and the European Regional Development Fund related to hyperspectral cameras. Current research projects, such as those funded by the Finnish Medical Foundation, are examining the pathology of central nervous system tumours in particular.

“The product seemed best suited for clinical use and is a key instrument in the study. Open interfaces are a clear plus. It is easy to make device customisations together when communication works well,” says Elomaa.

Elomaa believes that in the future, operating rooms will be equipped with hyperspectral imaging devices, the use of which will improve surgery outcomes regardless of specialty. Spectral imaging is highly complex, so data-driven know-how and innovation play an important role.

“There is really a lot of potential for utilisation in medicine, whether at issue is the imaging of cancer tumours or functionally important tissues that are to be spared in the operation.”

Challenges posed by sufficient exposure time

Traditional optical operating microscopes typically have powerful xenon lights, so the exposure time can be set short, and the colour spectrum is rich.

“To an increasing extent, endoscopes may have problems with the sufficiency of light, especially when using narrow-band light sources. An efficient adjustable light source would make an important working pair for a hyperspectral camera,” Elomaa surmises.

Senop’s Product Manager Jussi Kallio demonstrates for the team the live functionality that will be incorporated as part of the camera. It allows the user to select the wavelength ranges to be displayed as well as the exposure time, and the image can be viewed and analysed on the screen in real time.

“The live functionality looks really good, it’s exactly what we need. Digital enhancement and the ability to expand the image view are important features. Automatic exposure time adjustment would be necessary, as conditions vary during surgery and there is no time to approximate the appropriate exposure time,” says Elomaa.

Matti Rautiainen, Senop’s Sales and Marketing Director, listens to the comments and, based on them, considers solutions that could be used to develop the camera.

“The starting points for further development are excellent, as the HSC-2 is well suited for the imaging of organic material and has a storage space of one terabyte. Our close cooperation helps us to understand the specific requirements of the application area and fine-tune the product to make it even better,” says Rautiainen.

Elomaa looks forward to continued cooperation. His important goal is to complete a solution that will make operating room professionals excited about hyperspectral imaging.

Read more in the following publication (in Finnish): Millog-yhtiöiden asiakaslehti MAILI 1/2021