Researchers have developed a new digital imaging software that can create a full, 3 dimensional panorama of the bladder when used with any current endoscope. The technique will provide a cheaper, more comfortable and more convenient bladder scan to check tumors.
The current user interface projects the reconstructed organ onto a spherical ball or onto a flat map. The resulting mosaic matches the images to a single pixel of accuracy. Ultimately, the digital display would incorporate all the original frames, so a doctor could zoom in on an area of interest and observe from all angles at the highest resolution.
"Essentially, I want to give urologists a Google Earth view of the bladder," said co-author Timothy Soper, a UW research scientist in mechanical engineering.
"As you move the mouse over the 3-D surface it would show the individual frame showing exactly where that image came from. So you could have the forest and the trees," he said.
Currently, urologists conduct bladder exams using an endoscope that's manipulated around the bladder during the roughly 5 minute scan.
Unlike ultrasounds, X-rays and CT scans, medical doctors only perform endoscopies.
The UW software checks that no part of the organ was missed, so a nurse or technician could administer the procedure - especially using a small scope that doesn't require anesthesia.
And the resulting images could be reviewed by an urologist at a later time, potentially in another city or country.
"This is trying to bring endoscopy to a more digital, modern age," said co-author Eric Seibel.
The UW software could be used with any endoscope, though the team sees particular benefit in combining it with its flexible endoscope.
The study has been presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association, Washington D.C.