Next Stop: Superhuman Precision


With the increasing use of smart tools in the OR, operations are currently becoming much more precise. Laser technology is likely to become one of the most important of these new tools, because lasers can not only cut and ablate tissue, but also identify it. Such a multifunctional system is currently being developed in the Biomedical Laser & Optics Group (BLOG) at DBE.

Safety requirements of osteotomic interventions require the use of feedback systems for automated intervention. To achieve this without damaging the soft tissues in the surrounding, headed by Ferda Canbaz, the researchers at BLOG combine several optical feedback systems within a shoe-box-sized benchtop setup. This box consists of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), optical coherence tomography (OCT), and ablation laser combined in free space. They already obtained highly accurate results in several 3D matrices of tissues containing bone, bone marrow, and soft tissue, and submitted the resultsto the Biomedical Optics Express Journal.

Another approach BLOG pursues is to visualize and at the same time identify tissue types by linking OCT to artificial intelligence. Deep-learning-assisted OCT system provides visualization of the cut as well as the tissue type in the axial direction during laser ablation. After testing several bone samples, the results were validated using micro-CT systems. According to these experiments, bone marrow was preserved without any significant damage. The results are also submitted to Biomedical Optics Express Journal.

A system like this, fully developed, could push the boundaries of surgical precision deep into the superhuman realm. And thus also the success rate and safety of interventions, as well as the speed of recovery.