Multispectral imaging technology for a new generation of surgical microscopes and endoscopes

GO-Bio 7 – Dr. Nikolaos Deliolanis – Ruprecht-Karls-University of Heidelberg

Operation, Operationssaal

Tareq Salahuddin - flickr

Recipient: Ruprecht-Karls-University of Heidelberg
Funding: GO-Bio Phase I (01.11.2016 - 30.04.2019, 2.733.356 Euro)


The digital cameras used in endoscopes and surgical microscopes are indispensable optical aids for the field of surgery. Usually, the sensors in the colour cameras used in medical technology can capture only the information that is also perceived by the human eye. However, tissue actually contains far more optical information than is encompassed by the basic visible colours. Real-time multispectral imaging (rMSI) reveals image information that is generated by means of fluorescent contrast agents or which results as a function of the absorption characteristics of the tissue. The team led by Nikolaos Deliolanis of the Project group for Automation in Medicine and Biotechnology at the Fraunhofer IPA in Mannheim has set their sights on this additional information.

With their project ‘Seeing Beyond’, they are aiming to bring rMSI technology into medical application. Thereby, work is concentrating on the development of systems that can complement current endoscopes and surgical microscopes with the features of multispectral imaging and thus greatly enhance display options during diagnosis or surgical procedures.

During surgical procedures, the rMSI technique permits the simultaneous visualisation of different fluorescent molecules, which in turn enable the identification of the anatomical, functional and pathological properties of a tissue. Among other applications, this will improve demarcation of tumour margins from healthy tissue. The technology is based on modern LED light technology combined with optical filters and innovative methods of image processing. The Fraunhofer engineers have already successfully tested a prototype of their system on tissue mock-ups, as well as in mice. Over the coming five years, they plan to develop a basic rMSI system and an expanded model up to market readiness. The latter is intended for fitting to existing surgical devices. The devices are initially expected to find application in brain tumour and bladder tumour surgery, as well as in kidney surgery. In clinical trials carried out in cooperation with the Urological Clinic of Ulm University, Deliolanis and his team are hoping to test the new medical technology already in the first phase of GO-Bio.