Early adapters are already using Ascension's microBIRD to measure the position and orientation of objects in real-time, locate tips of instruments in 3D space, to guide flexible tools such as scopes, to internal targets, and to control catheters in computer-assisted procedures and robotics.
To demonstrate the microBIRD's precision and versatility, it will be shown in a bronchoscopy application developed at the University of Washington's HIT Laboratory. Researchers there have integrated a micro sensor into an ultra-thin bronchoscope for guiding instruments to lung targets deep inside airway branches. The approach will enable clinicians to image and treat previously inaccessible lung regions, beyond 5th generation airways.
In addition to its miniaturized packaging, microBIRD is a metal tolerant tracker without line-of-sight restrictions or radiation limitations. Four years in the making, it is particularly adept at locating objects and instruments in confined spaces, especially the human body. In medical imaging and minimally invasive procedures, microBIRD allows clinicians to combine imaging modalities, such as CT, MRI or ultrasound scans, with exact knowledge of an instrument's location referenced to visual images. With microBIRD and advanced imaging systems, clinicians can literally "see" inside the human body.
Recent advances in third-generation pulsed-DC magnetic technology enable microBIRD to operate without error near conductive metal, such as 300-series stainless steel, which is often found in medical environments. A new family of magnetic field transmitters including a flat transmitter that is placed beneath a patient, and signal processing techniques further overcomes the effects of other types of metals and cross coupling errors that plague earlier generation AC electromagnetic tracking technologies.
Ascension Technology Corporation, based in Burlington, Vermont, USA, is specialized in 3D tracking solutions for medical applications. For more information about Ascension trackers, you can visit the Ascension Web site or read the VMW November 2004 article Ascension's ReActor 2 is key to analysing human movements at Rutgers.