Recently, we proposed a novel imaging method which combines two different concepts; coded aperture imaging and incoherent digital holography. This combination opens new world of 3D imaging with interesting unexpected features. The new imaging concept is dubbed interferenceless coded aperture correlation holography (I-COACH). In I-COACH, modulating a single beam with a codded phase mask yields similar images, with the similar qualities and resolution as conventional lens-based imaging systems.
Another discovery published last year is that I-COACH can image 3D scene with only annular aperture rather than with the complete disk, commonly used as the aperture of most imaging systems. More importantly, the imaging through the annular aperture resolves small details of the observed scene similarly to the full disk aperture. In this research proposal we propose to implement this special aperture in medical imaging instruments, such as endoscopes and surgical robot, for 3D imaging of internal cavities of the human body (i.e. gastrointestinal (GI) tracts, Colon, Uterus and stomach). We term the proposed system endoscopic I-COACH (EI-COACH).
In such medical procedures a 3D imaging capability is of great importance for optimised interaction with real time monitoring system. The surgical part of the system, may consist of a fibre delivering laser radiation, a HIFU applicator, a RF device or a mechanical tool. Each of them can be used for tumour ablation or resection. In addition, there is an illumination device. It is also possible to add supporting components like stents or other drug eluting components. Since the internal size of an organ under treatment is limited, additional instruments force engineers to decrease the aperture diameter of the imaging system, and hence the image resolution is reduced. Alternatively, if the imaging system has an annular aperture with the maximal diameter for a given organ, the maximal resolution is guaranteed, and the space surrounded by the annular aperture is free to be used for the other required instruments.
The breakthrough of this proposal is the ability to provide a simple real-time 3D imaging with image resolution higher than can be achieved by current technologies. The amount of the resolution improvement is actually the ratio between the maximal aperture diameters of the proposed and the current endoscopes, and anyway, this expected resolution enhancement is certainly more than the lower threshold of 20% improvement defined by the ATTRACT program. The current 3D endoscopic imaging is achieved by double imaging bundle which is much more complicated and expensive. Our proposed system provides also the ability to work in a much more optimised way since we created a space along the axis that is open for surgical instruments (forceps, cutters, suction, irrigators energy delivery instruments such as RF applicators and fibres transmitting lasers).