Maryland Patent of the Month – July 2023

Blood vessels are the fundamental mechanism by which our tissues and organs receive nutrients and remove waste. This process is essential to maintaining viability and functionality in all tissue types. Many pathologies manifest in changes to the blood vessel anatomy – differing blood flow rates, blood vessel size, and even location. For instance, diabetic retinopathy is a vision-threatening complication that manifests in vessel occlusion. The ability to identify and track these changes can be beneficial to diagnostic methods.

Vasoptic Medical Inc., a pioneer in vascular imaging technologies, has developed a groundbreaking method for rapid examination of particulate flow using laser speckle contrast imaging (LSCI). This innovative technology enables real-time or near-real-time visualization of anatomical and physiological information related to the vasculature and blood flow.

The method involves several key steps. First, a stack of one or more speckle image frames is acquired through image acquisition. These frames capture the interference patterns formed by coherent light (such as laser light) reflecting off the target tissue. Next, the acquired frames are processed to calculate laser speckle contrast values, which are used to generate laser speckle contrast images. These images provide a quantified representation of the blurring effect caused by moving blood cells within the blood vessels.

In the second processing step, the laser speckle contrast images are further analyzed to estimate and determine anatomical and physiological information. This includes parameters such as vessel diameter, vessel tortuosity, vessel density, depth of a vessel, length of a vessel, type of blood vessel, blood flow, blood velocity, change in blood flow, change in blood velocity, and spatial distribution of blood flow. These parameters can be specific to a region of interest, a sub-region of the region of interest, an individual blood vessel, or a group of connected or disconnected blood vessels.

The visualizable representation of the anatomical and physiological information can be presented in various forms. It may include pseudo-color representations that can be predetermined or customizable during use, or numerical representations with predetermined or customizable formats. This visual feedback allows scientists, clinicians, and veterinarians to quickly assess and interpret the vascular anatomy and physiology in real-time or near-real-time.

The system developed by Vasoptic Medical comprises multiple components, including an illumination module and a light manipulation component for illuminating the target tissue, a camera module and an optical element for capturing reflected light, a processor for real-time or near-real-time calculations and estimations, a storage module for data storage, and a display module for presenting the anatomical and physiological information.

The applications of this technology are vast and significant. It can aid in the diagnosis, management, and treatment of various diseases and medical conditions associated with vascular abnormalities, including various retinopathies. In surgical settings, the real-time assessment of vascular anatomy and blood flow can provide crucial feedback for surgical planning, assessment of procedures, and decision-making during surgery.

Vasoptic Medical’s method and system offer a non-invasive and efficient approach to rapidly examine vascular anatomy and physiology. By harnessing the power of laser speckle contrast imaging, this technology opens up new possibilities for real-time monitoring, assessment, and intervention in the field of vascular imaging.

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