Miniaturized Cameras Give Surgeons a New View

Miniaturized Cameras Give Surgeons a New View

5 Dec 20226 min readMike Anderson
Miniaturized sensor next to the tip of a pen Miniaturized sensor next to the tip of a pen

When it comes to delicate and invasive surgical procedures, having a clear view of what’s going on is essential. That’s why camera-based medical imaging solutions are becoming increasingly important for operating rooms and other medical settings. These cameras provide surgeons with a level of detail that was once impossible to achieve. Thanks to medical imaging technology, surgeons now have the ability to see inside the human body like never before.

To ensure that the surgeons performing delicate operations are given the best possible view, it’s important to take into account a variety of factors in the medical camera’s design. For example, the space that the medical imaging needs, compared to the space available during the procedure, illumination so that the camera can deliver clear images (or alternative imaging solutions not reliant on the visible light spectrum), camera mount types, heat management, and more.

David Sanso and I conducted a webinar discussing some of the design considerations that went into creating the PREVOYANCE® Complete Imaging System and how its design helps surgeons who perform invasive procedures.

Here are a few of the highlights from the discussion that highlight critical design considerations for medical imaging in the operating room.

Benefits of a Straddle Mount for Medical Imaging Solutions

The PREVOYANCE® medical imaging system used a straddle mount with ATL’s Chip-On-Tip® connection methodology. The goal of the mount’s design is to create a straightforward assembly that ensures strong connectivity between the wiring and the sensor by having the LEDs and the sensor on one substrate instead of in multiple layers.

Because the sensor and LEDs are on the same substrate layer, the medical camera assembly is able to have a mass termination of coax directly at the tip of the camera. This helps save time on assembly, ensures strong signal integrity, and minimizes the space needed for this internal medical device.

About the Camera Cube for Higher-Definition Video

The camera cube used in the version of the PREVOYANCE® assembly showcased was the OCHTA series camera cube sensor. The cube itself is 0.6 mm x 0.6 mm—giving just enough room in the 1.3 mm tip assembly for two 0201 LEDs (with an estimated 1-2 lumen output) to be added.

The camera itself displays a 400 x 400 image—double the resolution of the previous model of the sensor. This helps generate a clearer picture for surgeons so they can perform more delicate operations with increased confidence.

Another option for the medical camera assembly is the OCHFA sensor. This alternative assembly is markedly larger than the OCHTA sensor at 1 mm x 1 mm. This medical camera assembly uses two 0402 LEDs (with a roughly 3-4 lumen output) to provide stronger illumination for greater visibility.

This variation of the sensor is the most economical option with the best quality image and a sight distance of roughly 2.5 cm. However, the larger size might make the OCHTA assembly more useful for certain microsurgery applications.

With any medical camera system for invasive procedures, it’s important to consider the nature of the procedure to determine the best camera assembly for the job.

Of course, the modular nature of the camera assembly allows for some extra customization. For example, while the 0402 LEDs are considered the optimal match for the OCHFA sensor and tip assembly, they could be utilized with the smaller OCHTA for the potential benefits of improved illumination.

About Using Fiber Optics for Medical Imaging

Another option for driving a high-quality image in a minimally sized imaging sensor is to use fiber optics. Applying fiber optics with an OCHTA/OCHFA camera cube is more costly than the Chip-On-Tip® assembly mentioned earlier.

Fiber optics are ideal for applications where available space is minimal and traditional LEDs simply won’t fit. Also, fiber optic cabling can provide a strong amount of light—generating around 7-10 lumens of light for a visualization distance of 10-15 cm (or four to six times the distance of the 0402 LEDs). This brightness can be achieved with less heat generated at the tip as well—making fiber optics a good choice for operations where excess heat would cause problems.

Adding Medical Cameras to Other Devices

Medical cameras don’t have to be standalone devices. By integrating a camera cube into the tip of another inserted medical device, surgeons can get a head-on view from the perspective of the device tip for maximum accuracy during an operation.

As an added benefit, adding a camera cube to another medical device can help to simplify device insertion and save some space. Instead of having to manage two separate devices during the operation, the surgical team only has to manage a single device. This results in fewer cables to manage and reduced risk of cables getting tangled or experiencing excess friction.

Or a device like a clamp/grabber could be fed through an existing channel from an already-installed scope.

Adding cameras to medical devices that haven’t had them before and using that design philosophy to avoid the “displaced image” issue that can sometimes complicate invasive procedures is one of the trends that the ATL team is at the forefront of.

Need help designing, assembling, or distributing a custom medical device for your clients? Contact us here to get started!


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