SERACAM®: Molecular Imaging at Patient Bedside with Serac Imaging Systems’ Compact Hybrid Gamma-Optical Camera
TTP’s wide expertise in physics, engineering, software and medical device development expedited the development of Serac Imaging Systems’ prototype into a portable imaging system.
Serac Imaging Systems
Healthcare, Surgery and Imaging
Serac Imaging Systems’ vision is to create a high-resolution compact gamma-optical camera for nuclear medicine imaging that can be used beyond the confines of a nuclear medicine department, for example at a patient’s bedside, in the operating theatre or intensive care unit.
TTP’s wide expertise in physics, engineering, software and medical device development expedited the development of Serac Imaging Systems’ prototype into a portable imaging system. It combines the functional information of a nuclear medicine scan, which uses a radioactive tracer to demonstrate how organs function at a cellular and molecular level, overlaid with fully co-aligned visual anatomical detail.
Bringing Seracam® to the patient will translate into better patient-centric care and more efficient healthcare delivery as well as enabling access to this imaging modality in new locations and for new patient groups.
Conventional nuclear medicine gamma cameras are large, heavy, fixed installation scanners. They are designed to image the patient’s entire body and require a dedicated suite in the hospital. Patients must travel to the nuclear medicine department for this imaging, even for relatively simple scans of small organs such as the thyroid gland.
Critically ill patients in the Emergency Department or Intensive Care Unit (ICU) often miss out on the functional insight provided by nuclear medicine because of the limitations of its fixed location and the difficulty of moving critically ill patients across the hospital for imaging.
Inspiration from outer space
Inspired by a much smaller, high-energy X-ray camera flown into space aboard the Chandra X-ray Observatory, Serac Imaging Systems recognised the potential to develop a high-quality compact gamma camera for performing nuclear medicine scans in real-time at a patient’s bedside or in the operating theatre.
To enhance the diagnostic insight, Serac Imaging Systems also wanted to integrate an optical camera into its system to give clinicians anatomical context to the gamma images, as an additional feature not available on traditional scanning systems and seen as a feature of particular value in surgical applications.
With a prototype in hand, Serac Imaging Systems approached TTP to expedite the development of this ground-breaking imaging system.
A good understanding of the key applications, a small form factor, and a great customer experience were in mind from the outset. Pre-conceived ideas from traditional gamma cameras were put to one side. Working closely with Serac Imaging Systems, TTP looked to other industries to find the cutting-edge technological solutions that would truly deliver a breakthrough solution for hybrid gamma-optical imaging.
Creating a portable gamma scanner with a co-aligned optical camera
TTP’s medical imaging physicists first helped to define the gamma ray camera sensitivity needed for clinical imaging in a small form factor format. This informed the choice of a more sensitive detection technology to match the performance of current accepted standard nuclear medicine scanners within a small field of view. To allow adjustments to the camera’s imaging performance for different applications, TTP also integrated an electronically adjustable collimator within the gamma camera.
The next engineering challenge was adding an optical camera to match the field of view of the gamma camera, all while maintaining a compact size. TTP created a custom optical camera design and integrated it with the adjustable collimator to provide superimposed gamma and visual images without parallax, maintaining the matched field of view and image alignment at any angle or distance to the subject.
The integration of the imaging technologies went hand in hand with a redesign to achieve an attractive, portable imaging system where all electronic components were located within the camera head. A combination of sophisticated electronics and data processing algorithms allowed for a low power device able to live-stream both image modalities in real time via a single cable providing for both power and data.
In parallel, TTP’s medical software team developed an intuitive graphical user interface for camera control, image capture, storage and transmission to the hospital PACS (Picture Archiving Communications System). This was critical to Serac Imaging Systems’ vision for a system that can be rapidly deployed anywhere within a hospital for imaging at the point of care.
Designed for bedside imaging
Seracam is incomparably lighter than a conventional nuclear medicine scanner and can be easily moved into position next to the patient. The camera head is attached to a monitor by an articulated arm for adjustable movement.
The intuitive user interface allows for easy set-up and use at the patient’s bedside, for example for functional imaging of the thyroid.
Better patient-centric care and improved healthcare delivery
This ability to take the camera to the point of care in a wide range of settings has the potential to expand the significant benefits of nuclear imaging to new patient populations.
Avoiding the need to move patients from the ICU to nuclear medicine for imaging or allowing the surgeon to image in real time offer the opportunity for significantly improved patient outcomes.
In addition, being able to image small regions of the body with Seracam could improve the workflow of a hospital’s nuclear medicine department, freeing up the larger scanners for larger regions of the body, full body scans, and more complex clinical procedures.
The platform technology developed by TTP allows for future modification of the camera, for example the addition of automatic motion correction, 3D imaging and hybrid gamma-fluorescence imaging for improved use in surgical oncology.
TTP continues to support Serac Imaging Systems in its future development.
“The team at TTP has done a fantastic job expediting the journey to commercialisation of our prototype. We are excited about the potential for Seracam to improve patients’ lives.” – Dr Paul Cload, Chief Marketing Officer at Serac Imaging Systems