Feature Of The Week 10/3/10: Combined Image-Processing Algorithms for Improved OCT Imaging of Prostate Nerves
Feature Of The Week 10/3/10: The cavernous nerves are responsible for sexual function. These nerves are at risk of injury during surgical dissection and removal of a cancerous prostate gland because of the close proximity of the nerves to the prostate surface. Their microscopic nature also makes it difficult to predict the true course and location of these nerves from one patient to another. These observations may explain in part the wide variability in reported potency rates (9-86%) following prostate cancer surgery. Therefore, any technology capable of providing improved identification, imaging, and visualization of the cavernous nerves during prostate cancer surgery would aid preservation of the nerves and improve postoperative sexual potency.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a noninvasive optical imaging technique for in vivo and in situ imaging of microstructure in biological tissues. OCT imaging of the cavernous nerves in the rat and human prostate has recently been demonstrated. However, improvement in the quality of the images for identification of the cavernous nerves is necessary before clinical use.
Shown here are results from research at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Johns Hopkins. This study describes a step-by-step approach that employs three complementary image-processing algorithms for improving identification and imaging of the cavernous nerves during OCT of the prostate gland. First, OCT images of the prostate are segmented to differentiate the cavernous nerves from the prostate gland. Then, a locally adaptive denoising algorithm using a dual-tree complex wavelet transform is applied to reduce speckle noise. Finally, edge detection is used to provide deeper imaging of the prostate gland. Combined application of these three algorithms results in improved signal-to-noise ratio, imaging depth, and automatic identification of the cavernous nerves, which may be of direct benefit for use in laparoscopic and robotic nerve-sparing prostate cancer surgery.
For more information see recent Article. Courtesy of Shahab Chitchian.