What Are the Benefits of Using Cameras in Medicine? – Vision Campus

Welcome back to the Vision Campus! Today, let’s talk about the benefits of using cameras in medicine. Before imaging technology became available in medicine, it was often difficult to generate accurate diagnostic information. In the year 1800, for example, procedures
called “exploratory surgery” were very common. This forced doctors to use invasive procedures
like surgery to make a cancer diagnosis. Today, with the help of imaging and vision
technology, there are many camera-based diagnostic devices on the market. There are:
Fundus cameras to check the back of a patient’s eye. Automated microscopy for the analysis of body
fluids, such as blood or urine. Intraoral scanners that help eliminate the
uncomfortable wax stamp that nobody really likes. Digital dermatoscopes for identification and
tracking of suspicious skin regions. And many many more. All these devices give information that can
contribute to both the diagnosis process, and the intervention that follows. There are four major benefits cameras can bring to the medical domain. Number one: Documentation. With a digital image, the clinician can examine
the region of interest more easily than by looking through an optic attached to a device. Also, the clinician can add annotations to
the image data, so that suspicious regions can be re-identified and tracked over time. Digital patient records can store all these
images and information, so that they are available for clinicians worldwide. Number two: Image analysis. In today’s tumor diagnostics, sampling and
analyzing tissue slides under the microscope is still common practice. With automated microscopes, the image of the
slide can be scanned. Modern image analysis algorithms, such as
neural networks, can then search the image for suspicious regions to propose an analysis
to the pathologist. This can be done in minutes, while the manual
investigation takes several hours – and relies on a single human operator. Number three: Automation. There are two trends driving development in
this field. The need for multiple diagnostic procedures is increasing (this is also due to demographic factors). At the same time, rising labor costs create
the need for more automation. Tubes of blood samples for example, no longer
need to be manually stored by laboratory workers, but are archived using bar-code-reading classification systems. Number four: Visualization. Cameras also serve as the “eye” in many sophisticated
imaging techniques. Used as endoscopes or so-called “smart pills”,
millimeter-sized cameras record the device’s path through the inner parts of our body. Fluorescence-guided surgery lets the surgeon
distinguish between healthy and cancerous tissue in real-time during the procedure. Fluorescence angiography lets the ophthalmologist
see if the tiny vessels in the background of the eye are properly connected. Hyperspectral cameras can distinguish between tissue that is flushed with blood and tissue suffering from too little oxygen. Cameras designed for use in medicine and life sciences also face some tough performance and form-factor requirements. Because the diagnostic process often depends directly on the camera’s image, the criteria that make an industrial camera suitable for diagnostic tasks include reliability and robustness, a high color fidelity, a long term availability,
and the right feature set. The cameras must be manufactured with very
high precision to ensure consistent performance; taking an image of the same region of interest
must result in comparable images over time. Unlike consumer cameras, industrial cameras must provide a long service life and be extremely reliable. They also need to be produced under certain industry-adopted ISO standards to fulfil the requirements of medical device manufacturers. Since in many cases a diagnosis is directly
based on color information, the camera must be highly accurate in projecting real-world
colors into the digital image. In other words, the color that the clinician
sees on the monitor must be the same color that is present in the diagnostic region of
interest in the real world. The certification process for many diagnostic
devices is very exhaustive and time-consuming. Therefore, the cameras for such devices must
be available on the market for a long time. Unlike manufacturers for quickly-changing consumer cameras or sensors, industrial camera manufacturers must offer their product for a very long time span to serve this need. Generating just the raw-sensor data is typically not sufficient for manufacturers of camera-based diagnostic devices. The right camera features, such as color interpolation, color calibration, sharpening corrections and advanced color features often make the
difference when choosing a camera supplier. This was just a short glimpse into the contribution
of cameras to the medical field. Thanks to reduced costs and smaller sizes,
more and more medical devices will be equipped with machine vision in the future. We will encounter these advanced devices more
frequently in medical settings of all kinds. Their increasing affordability will see them
becoming more common in economies and locations around the world. Thanks for watching!

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