Optische Rheuma Diagnose - Screening und Früherkennung einer Volkskrankheit (Optical rheumatism diagnosis - screening and early detection of a widespread disease)

Today, the most common cause of serious inflammatory arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

To be able to start with the treatment of RA on time, the disease must be diagnosed at an early stage, which is not always easy.

It was demonstrated that the light absorption and scattering characteristics of human tissue may correlate with disease development, therefore optical imaging method can be used for diagnostics and monitoring of RA. Optical imaging has high sensitivity, and specificity unique in comparison to other biomedical imaging methods. Besides expensive tomographic approaches a robust procedure has become established in optical diagnostics of rheumatism: transillumination of finger joint.

The aim of the project was the development of a robust and cost-effective prototype for non-invasive diagnostics of rheumatoid arthritis based on optical imaging.

The novelty of the solution approach consists in the construction of an optical imaging system which allows a multispectral examination in a short time. The modern software for patient acquisition (database), image acquisition and image processing will be integrated to the new rheumatoid arthritis diagnostic system. The important role in diagnostics will play the optical clearing approach, which helps to increase the penetration depth of laser irradiation into the tissue.

Advantages:

  1. combination of multi wavelength imaging with OCA method
  2. non-invasive diagnostic tool
  3. digital presentation of scattered light signals of finger joints and displaying a measure of inflammation, diagnostic scoring via diagnostic wizard

Working prototype

The RheumaSensor prototype consists of transparent spherical hand support, set of quickly replaceable adjustable hand holders for different hand sizes, 3-wavelength laser emitter moving around on a 2-axis robotic arm, easy to use computer controls for emitter positioning, NIR extended CCD camera with real-time image display on computer screen, automated image registration on 3 different wavelengths. Developed software allows automatized measuring procedure (positioning of laser beams, camera control, image conversation and presentation in Cartesian co-ordinates) and image analysis.

The developed prototypes are in clinical approbation stage.