Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Digital imaging software to create a 'Google Earth' view of the bladder

Bladder cancer is the fourth-most-common cancer in men and one of the most expensive cancers to treat from diagnosis to death.

After initial diagnosis and surgery, patients must return to the urologist at least yearly for a costly, time-consuming and uncomfortable bladder scan. Tumors recur in more than half of patients.

Researchers at the University of Washington are proposing a more automated approach that could be cheaper, more comfortable and more convenient for both doctors and patients. Their system would use the UW's ultrathin laser endoscope, which is like a thin piece of cooked spaghetti, in combination with software that stitches together images from the scope's path to create a full, 3-D panorama of the bladder interior.

The semi-automated scan could be done by a nurse or technician. Resulting images could be reviewed by a 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, a UW research associate professor of mechanical engineering. "In the current model a very highly trained person has to do all the manual controls. There's no electronic record, no longitudinal studies, no remote diagnosis and you can't send records anywhere."

The research is being presented today in Washington, D.C., at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association.

Currently, urologists conduct bladder exams using an endoscope that's manipulated around the bladder during the roughly 5 minute scan. Because a specialist is required, some patients have to travel long distances for appointments.

Unlike ultrasounds, X-rays and CT scans, endoscopies are only performed by medical doctors. Often no records exist beyond the doctor's notes.

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.

"There's a potential with this technology to semi-automate or fully automate the examination," said Dr. Michael Porter, a UW assistant professor of urology. "It's a few years down the road, at least, but the potential is there."

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."

Reviewing the resulting panoramic image would likely require less of the urologist's time than performing a manual inspection.

At the meeting, Porter will present the software and the user interface, as well as preliminary results of 3-D panoramas from a commercially available endoscope inserted into a painted glass bulb, a stained pig bladder and a normal human bladder.

The UW software could be used with any endoscope, though the team sees particular benefit in combining it with its flexible endoscope. The UW scope is just 1.5 mm wide, about half the size of its smallest competitor (most bladder scopes are as thick as a pencil, while the UW's is like a strand of angel hair pasta with a tip the size of a grain of rice). It captures finer-grained images than existing flexible endoscopes. The tiny size is possible because of a novel design that swings a single optical fiber back and forth to scan a color image pixel by pixel.

The tip of the UW device will contain a steering mechanism that directs the movement of the scope during the internal exam.

Another advantage of using the UW scope in urology is that it can detect newly approved diagnostic cancer-cell markers that are best seen using low-power lasers, which are already used in the UW device.

Until recently a Japanese company held exclusive rights to develop medical applications for the UW scope. That license expired last month, and UW researchers are now exploring their tool's use for urology. They are waiting for U.S. Food and Drug Administration safety clearance to test the scope for human bladder scans and pursuing funding options. The next step will ask urologists to compare their experience of performing a diagnosis from a live video scan of a human bladder with the 3-D digital recreation.

The research was funded by a grant from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation in the UW's Department of Bioengineering, and by the UW's Center for Commercialization.

For more information, contact Seibel at 206-616-1486 or, Soper at 206-616-1420 or and Porter at

See also: "Camera in a pill offers cheaper, easier window on your insides"
UW News | Jan. 24, 2008
See also: "New approaches to bladder-surveillance endoscopy"
SPIE Newsroom | April 2011

Hannah Hickey | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht Gentle sensors for diagnosing brain disorders
29.09.2016 | King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

nachricht New imaging technique in Alzheimer’s disease - opens up possibilities for new drug development
28.09.2016 | Lund University

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>