Polarization-sensitive Imaging in Medicine

Nowadays, new applications of camera-based methods for medical diagnosis are not only driven by the rapid developments in the field of image processing but also due to the availability of novel camera systems.

The goal of this project is to investigate the potential medical application of recently released polarization-sensitive cameras. A first focus will be on a still unsolved problem in neurosurgery: the intraoperativ visualization of nerve fibers within the white matter of the human brain. Precise information about the location and orientation of fiber bundles is essential for preserving neural functionality. Today, Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) is the gold standard for preoperative MRI fiber tracking, playing an important role in surgical planning. But due to brain shift during surgery the precise spatial correlation gets rapidly lost.

On the other hand, due to their birefringent properties the orientation of nerve fibers can be optically detected as well. By means of an appropriate and applicable polarization-sensitive image capturing and processing system an intraoperative optical fiber tracking should be feasible. In a first step the system needs to be systematically qualified and validated. Additionally, the underlying theory of physical optics for the interpretation of polarisation signals from a diffuse backscattering sample needs to be developed.