At the beginning of this year, a new project called IRVIT has been set up by the Finnish liaison of the Technology Transfer Nodes (TTN) within the organization's Machine Vision department. A group of researchers from the Information Processing Laboratory at the University of Oulu investigate the possibility of integrating Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) techniques during surgical interventions for intra-operative real time visualization and instrument tracking (IRVIT). The scientists are working together with two manufacturers of MRI scanners and MRI compatible instruments to design a functional and cost-effective system for the Department of Diagnostic Radiology at the Oulu University Hospital.
The IRVIT system provides the surgeon with a non-radioactive method for interventional imaging which delivers real time feedback of excellent quality. For the first time, MRI will be implemented in minimally invasive surgery as a secure and accurate tool for guidance inside the body of the patient. Advanced technology will be used to follow the movements of surgical instruments when introduced into small openings and natural cavities of the body, in order to reach the pre-operatively planned target. The instrument is precisely localized by means of a special marker system, which is automatically tracked. The position of the instrument is further used to automatically control the imaging and visualization.
The project has been planned for a period of 18 months during which the Oulu University Hospital as an end-user will provide important information concerning the technical, functional and latency requirements. This kind of feedback is absolutely necessary in order to build a clinically feasible MRI system. The more dedicated the commitment of the hospital end-users, the higher the market and clinical relevance of the IRVIT results will be. At the same time, the Oulu University Hospital will also contribute its experience and expertise in high speed visualization to the IRVIT research team. In turn, the computer scientists of the University of Oulu will try to apply their theoretical knowledge on high speed machine vision and demanding signal processing.
From the industrial side, Picker Nordstar Oy, a specialized manufacturer of MRI scanner devices and marker technology, and Daum GmbH, a producer of MRI compatible instruments, will bring in their knowhow on material and instrument design. The initiative is coordinated by Lasse Jyrkinen who is both involved in activities related to the Information Processing Laboratory and to Picker Nordstar Oy. In the final setting, the IRVIT system will be able to combine real time and pre-operatively taken images to provide a realistic and accurate 3D visual feedback, which will help the physician at taking the necessary surgical steps in the right order. Please, consult the IRVIT home page for more details.