Internal Light Delivery for Photoacoustic-guided Drilling

Case ID:
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Unmet Need:
Photoacoustic imaging is an increasingly popular biomedical imaging technique that uses ultrasonic emission, resulting from laser pulses delivered to tissue, to construct an image. A potentially useful tool in a wide range of surgeries as it can locate tumors, lesions, nerves, and blood vessels, current external light delivery systems severely limit the techniques’ functionality. An external system renders the tool unusable when drilling holes deeper than a few millimeters as the laser light will be absorbed by the surrounding tissues before reaching the tool tip.
Technology Overview:
Hopkins researchers have designed a new photoacoustic imaging device contained within a surgical drill bit. This invention allows for imaging the location of drill bits using only standard medical ultrasound transducers and a laser source instead of having to use X-Ray based imaging that subjects patient and surgeon alike to a radiation dose. The invention will also allow for imaging of structures such as nerves and blood vessels in front of the drill bit, which could potentially be used to stop or prevent motion of the drill into these structures.
Stage of Development:
Researchers have demonstrated the first known detection of photoacoustic signals from within the vertebrae, and then performed the first known mapping of these signals onto a preoperative CT of the vertebra. These studies suggests that this device can be used in spinal fusion surgeries and vertebroplasties to prevent nerve damage while reducing radiation exposure to patients and surgeons.
Shubert and Bell, Phys. Med. Biol. 63 (2018)
Patent Information:
Title App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Expire Date Patent Status
INTERNAL LASER LIGHT DELIVERY FOR PHOTOACOUSTIC-GUIDED DRILLING PCT: Patent Cooperation Treaty United States 17/260,943 1/15/2021     Pending
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Lisa Schwier
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