Use in medicine and technology

Endoscopic surgery is ideal for minimally invasive procedures. But despite all the medical benefits, there is a lot of development potential to make such surgeries even safer and expand the medical capabilities of endoscopy. Based on many years of experience with optical technologies, Fraunhofer IPM develops customized high-end endoscopy techniques and systems.

Competencies in the field of endoscopy can also be used outside of medicine, for example, in the technical field to inspect hard-to-reach areas. Use in the maintenance of engines or the investigation of the insides of pipe are conceivable application examples.

A fluorescence system supports the surgeon

Together with the Department of Urology at Freiburg University Hospital, Fraunhofer IPM has developed a system for the in-situ detection of kidney stones for a manufacturer of medical technology products.

Laser lithotripsy is used for the comminution of urinary or kidney stones. High-energy laser pulses are guided endoscopically to the stones with a glass fiber. If the fiber is not aligned correctly, laser light can reach the kidney tissue and damage it.

To avoid this, Fraunhofer IPM has developed a system based on fluorescence analysis, which supports the surgeon in endoscopic laser lithotripsy. The system differentiates the material structures of urine or kidney stones automatically based on their respective characteristic fluorescence spectra. For this purpose, a specially developed lens system for fluorescence excitation and detection is integrated into the beam path of the lithotripsy laser. In this way, the surgeon can reliably and in real time distinguish between tissue, endoscope and urinary or kidney stones. This real-time analysis of the spectra allows automatic feedback to the therapy laser so that it can only be triggered to treat valid target structures.