Mastering Image Quality in Medical Devices: An Engineer's Guide to Camera Control Units

Mastering Image Quality in Medical Devices: An Engineer's Guide to Camera Control Units

7 Mar 20247 min readMike Anderson
A complete medical imaging system utilizing ATL Technology's PREVOYANCE camera control unit. A complete medical imaging system utilizing ATL Technology's PREVOYANCE camera control unit.

In the rapidly evolving medical device industry, the Camera Control Unit (CCU) is a cornerstone in delivering high-quality images and bolstering patient safety.

This article aims to unravel the complexities of the CCU, emphasizing its essential role in medical imaging systems, the criticality of LED control for optimal image quality, and providing a thorough examination of the imaging process. Join us as we look through the technological advancements that ensure every image plays a pivotal role in precise patient diagnoses and treatments.

On June 25, 2021, the FDA submitted the following regarding Flexible Bronchoscopes and Updated Recommendations for Reprocessing:

"Consider using a single-use bronchoscope in situations where there is an increased risk of spreading infection (for example, multidrug-resistant microorganisms, immunocompromised patients, or patients with prion disease) or when there is no support for immediate reprocessing of the bronchoscope."

This directive has shifted the medical industry's focus towards enhancing patient safety and prompted the development and production of single-use scopes, embedding cameras for new imaging modalities. This has broadened the horizons of medical imaging, enabling ATL to extend its outreach to engineers who are newly venturing into the realm of imaging. The essence of this blog is to provide foundational knowledge about the nuances of the camera control unit.

Comprehensive Topics Overview:

  1. Understanding the Camera Control Unit (CCU)
  2. Exploring Quality Image Components
    1. Key Parameters of Quality Imaging Components
  3. Complete Imaging System Overview

Understanding the Camera Control Unit

At the heart of the medical imaging system, the CCU is indispensable for managing and processing images captured by camera-based medical devices. This unit, integral to the production of high-quality images, is known by various names, including camera controllers, tablets, image processors, image interfaces, and video scope systems. Its role is crucial in ensuring the images produced meet the high standards required for medical diagnosis and treatment.

Exploring Quality Image Components

Delving into the quality of camera-based images necessitates a profound understanding of human anatomy's complexity. Every organ and joint, with its unique structure and function, demands meticulous consideration to capture top-tier images.

Human Anatomy Consideration:

The publication "Bedside Assessment of the Kidneys and Bladder Using Point of Care Ultrasound" by Doctors Patrick J Taus, Surya Manivannan, and Ria Dancel provides invaluable insights into the anatomical considerations necessary for quality imaging. They note, "In adults, the median length of the right kidney in females is 10.7 cm (range 9.5 - 12 cm) and in males, 11.2 cm (range 10.1 - 12.4 cm). The median length of the left kidney in females is 11 cm (range 9.4 - 12 cm) and in males is 11.5 cm (range 10.4 - 12.6 cm)."

Moreover, they detail the volume measurement of the stomach as follows: "Volume (mL) = depth x width x length x 0.52. Using the width measurement in the above figure, this patient’s estimated bladder volume is 10.5 cm x 4.2 cm x 11.7 cm x 0.52 = 268 mL."

Such variations in size and volume across different organs underscore the need for tailored imaging requirements. This further emphasizes the critical image components and parameters necessary for achieving high-quality images.

Key Parameters of Quality Imaging Components


  • What it is: White Balance compensates for color differences between various lighting conditions and how cameras perceive color versus the human eye.
  • How it works: It's calibrated by placing a white card in front of the camera under the desired light source, and adjusting the camera settings until the card appears white in the image, ensuring accurate color representation.
  • Why it is important: Proper white balance ensures that colors are represented accurately in the image, which is crucial for medical diagnoses where color distinction can be vital.


  • What it is: Hue modifies the color balance of an image, adjusting it towards red or blue tones.
  • How it works: By altering the red and blue balance in the image, hue adjustments can fine-tune the color tone to more closely match the natural appearance.
  • Why it is important: Hue adjustment is critical after setting the white balance to achieve a true-to-life color representation in the final image.


  • What it is: AGC regulates the brightness of the image to ensure that it is neither too dark nor too bright.
  • How it works: It automatically adjusts the camera's sensor gain and exposure based on the lightness or darkness of the incoming image.
  • Why it is important: AGC is crucial for maintaining the clarity of the image under varying light conditions, ensuring that the image details are visible and usable for diagnosis.


  • What it is: LED Control manages the brightness and intensity of the LED illumination used in imaging.
  • How it works: By adjusting the current supplied by the LED driver, it sets the maximum brightness level that can be achieved by the LED light source.
  • Why it is important: Precise LED control prevents overheating and prolongs the life of the LED, while ensuring optimal illumination for image capture.


  • What it is: Saturation determines the intensity and vividness of colors in an image.
  • How it works: Adjusting saturation changes the strength of color in the image, enhancing or muting the colors.
  • Why it is important: Correct saturation levels ensure that the image has a natural and realistic appearance, with colors that accurately reflect the subject.


  • What it is: Gamma adjustment controls the overall brightness of the image without altering its color balance.
  • How it works: It corrects the nonlinear brightness produced by most imaging sensors, matching it to the linear way our eyes perceive light and color.
  • Why it is important: Proper gamma settings ensure that images have the right contrast and brightness, making it easier to discern details in both bright and dark areas.


  • What it is: Sharpness enhances the detail of an image by increasing the contrast between adjacent pixels.
  • How it works: It adjusts the image processing to accentuate edges and fine details within the image.
  • Why it is important: Increased sharpness makes it easier to identify and diagnose medical conditions from the captured images, as details are more pronounced.


  • What it is: The Region of Interest feature allows focusing on a specific part of the image for detailed analysis.
  • How it works: It enables the AGC to concentrate on adjusting the brightness and contrast of a smaller, specific area of the image, ignoring the rest.
  • Why it is important: Focusing on an ROI can provide clearer details for specific areas of interest, enhancing the diagnostic accuracy for those regions.

These parameters collectively ensure that the medical imaging system produces images of the highest quality, crucial for accurate diagnosis and treatment. With advancements in camera control technology, engineers are empowered to fine-tune these settings, pushing the boundaries of medical imaging capabilities and enhancing patient outcomes.

Complete Imaging System Overview

The CCU, in conjunction with camera-based devices, forms the backbone of the medical imaging system, facilitating detailed internal views of patient anatomy. By processing images in real-time and fine-tuning settings to achieve optimal quality, the CCU enables effective diagnosis and treatment. This central unit's role is integral in storing and retrieving images for analysis, making it indispensable in the medical imaging process.

ATL Technology's prowess in navigating the complexities of achieving high-quality images is exemplified through our PREVOYANCE® Camera Control Unit, marking a significant milestone in the journey of imaging system development. Our end-to-end support encompasses the design, development, testing, and manufacturing of camera-based medical devices, significantly curtailing the time to market and enhancing project outcomes.

This article, while serving as an introduction to the realm of camera-based medical imaging, invites engineers to engage with ATL for deeper exploration into high-quality image creation. To delve deeper into the intricacies of crafting high-quality images, connect with ATL, and one of our imaging experts will reach out to you with more information. At ATL, we take pride in fostering collaboration between our engineers and our customers' engineers to uphold our commitment to delivering the highest standards for quality, safety, and patient outcomes.