Lighting the way for advanced robotic surgery

Today, you’ll find high-tech, robotic surgical systems commonly used in many hospitals. Even though the surgery itself might be performed by a robot, the surgeon controlling the instruments must have a clear view of the surgical field. This is typically accomplished with an endoscope that contains a camera for imaging and a light guide for illumination.

Today, you’ll find high-tech, robotic surgical systems commonly used in many hospitals. Even though the surgery itself might be performed by a robot, the surgeon controlling the instruments must have a clear view of the surgical field. This is typically accomplished with an endoscope that contains a camera for imaging and a light guide for illumination.

Light guides made from bundles of SCHOTT PURAVIS® glass fibers deliver pure white light and excellent color rendering. This creates high-quality illumination that provides surgeons with a true-to-life view of tissue. The unique properties of these fibers are helping current and next-generation robotic surgery systems provide successful surgical outcomes.

Bright light over long distances

Delivering high intensity illumination to the patient is not an easy task during a robotic surgery. The light source can often be remotely located some distance away from the endoscope, making optical efficiency critical in maximizing light transmission.

The best illumination begins with maximum coupling of light from the source into the fiber optic light guide. With wider acceptance angles of up to 85° and 120°, PURAVIS® GOF85 and GOF120 fibers can receive more light than traditional fibers and create a larger area of illumination at the distal end of the endoscope.

As light travels down the light guide, PURAVIS® fibers maintain a high transmission. When longer lengths typical for robotic surgery applications, for example 20 feet / 7 meters or more, are needed, the GOF85 fiber is the variant of choice. Thanks to their high chemical stability, PURAVIS® fibers can also withstand repeated cleaning and autoclaving with minimum losses in transmission.

High energy levels

High energy input is required if light traveling a long distance is to effectively illuminate the remote surgical site. The challenge is that these high energy levels can damage the epoxies often used to hold bundles of fibers together.

SCHOTT has overcome this problem by creating fiber optic bundles that don’t need to use any epoxies; hot fused light guides. Such flexible bundles fuse the end fibers together and provide the temperature resistance needed to be used effectively with Xenon or other high-intensity light sources.

The interface between the light guide and the endoscope is another critical area for light loss and a challenge confronting endoscope designers. One solution is a new innovation by SCHOTT to taper a ‘hot fused’ end of the flexible light guide bundle. This allows the tapered side of the light guide to be placed directly against the fiber bundle inside of an endoscope, thus eliminating the need for many endoscopes’ solid taper components. Such designs have yielded scope output improvements as much as 50%.

A futuristic surgical room with robotic technology equipment.
Flexible light guides
In applications such as robot-assisted surgery, it is even possible to send light very precisely through glass fibers in lengths of up to seven meters (20 feet). Photo: SCHOTT.

Making a longer fiber bundle

With all the technology required to operate a robotic surgical system, the wires and cables can become overwhelming. SCHOTT produces extruded fiber optic bundles hundreds of feet long that can be further incorporated by a third party into a single hybrid extruded cable containing the fiber bundles and electrical wires all in one package. These streamlined coaxial cables are not only easy to sterilize but keep the operating room clutter-free. Such cabling would be near impossible using the shorter fiber lengths associated with traditional fiber optic manufacturing processes.

With 130 years of experience in glass and extensive expertise in the medical device industry, SCHOTT can keep manufacturing costs down while shortening the time it takes to get a new product from the idea stage into the operating room. The company has the knowledge necessary to recommend the best components to produce the highest-quality light output for any type of setup. This helps ensure the entire light delivery system is optimized for the specific application and will perform at a high level for years.

March 2, 2021

Contact

Tony Cappabianca
Lighting and Imaging
SCHOTT North America, Inc.

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