Publication: From Macro to Micro

A joint publication between my old and new group has just appeared in the Robotics and Automation Magazine:

From Macro to Micro: Autonomous Multiscale Image Fusion for Robotic Surgery

Lin Zhang, Menglong Ye, Petros Giataganas, Michael Hughes, Adrian Bradu, Adrian Podoleanu, and Guang-Zhong Yang

It’s available open access from here:

This paper was the result of a project integrating two high-resolution, probe-based imaging systems, endoscopic microscopy and optical coherence tomography (OCT), with the da Vinci surgical robot, and then using these imaging systems to support automated scanning to generate large-area maps of tissue at high resolution.

The imaging systems and the robot

The two different imaging modalities support the robotic guidance in different ways. The endomicroscope provides an en face view of the tissue (as though you are looking down on it from the top), whereas the OCT gives a cross-sectional image through the tissue. The endomicroscope images are circular, and about a quarter of a millimetre in diameter, while the OCT gives cross-sectional images that are 5 mm in depth (although in practice it can only penetrate 1-2 mm into tissue before the signal becomes too small to be useful). So the endomicroscope images were used to guide the position along the surface of the tissue, and the OCT images were used to guide the robot’s distance from the tissue. Between the two, this provided three-dimensional control of the robot, with accuracy measured in the 10’s of microns. This made the robotic control far more accurate than simply relying on its own, internal position estimation.

This project was a great example of two Universities collaborating – the OCT system was built here at Kent, I developed the endomicroscope at Imperial College, and Imperial also developed most of the robotic control system using the da Vinci Research Kit (dVRK). A version of this system was entered into the Surgical Robotic Challenge Last year, and although we didn’t win the overall prize, we did win the Best Video category.


Postgrad festival and alumni panel

It was the university’s postgraduate festival on Tuesday 16th May. This is a really nice event that sadly didn’t exist when I was doing my PhD, and it seemed to be appreciated by students from across the faculties and campuses. It was also a great opportunity to explore the impressive atrium and events space of the new Sibson Building, a mere stone’s throw from the Photonics Centre. A while back I had volunteered to sit on the alumni panel, sharing experiences of life after postgraduate study at Kent, alongside others who had gone on to work in industry and the third sector. We had a good attendance for the panel, with lots of thoughtful questions from the audience, and hopefully some of the students found it useful for their career

The festival was also a great chance to see some snapshots of student research from around the University, particularly the humanities and social sciences work which we don’t always come into contact with. We had a big showing from the Applied Optics Group (AOG), including a great poster from visiting student Miroslav Duriš, who I have been co-supervising, presenting some of his work on multimode fibre imaging. Finally, congratulations to AOG member Magalie Bondu who won the three-minute teaser competition, and will now be competing in the national competition.