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Non‐Invasive, Intra‐Operative, Nerve Identification


Researchers at Children's National Hospital have developed a non‐invasive, imaging technique and device for identification of nerves that are not easily identifiable and distinguishable from blood vessels during intra‐operative procedures. This preferential imaging system offers a full‐field birefringence surgical neural map within the operative field which is a significant improvement over current techniques involving a surgeon’s unaided eyes, and therefore aims to drastically reduce nerve injuries.


Despite the use of visual cues, surgeons have a difficult time localizing small nerve branches with unaided eyes as they are visually indistinguishable from blood vessels or surrounding tissues. The use of electrical nerve stimulation and fluorescent dyes are helpful however they have their disadvantages of being invasive, distracting or toxic. The inability to clearly identify nerves could potentially lead to iatrogenic or physician‐caused unintentional nerve injuries (about 17% nerve‐related injuries worldwide). Such injuries could cause post‐operative morbidity or paralysis which could profoundly impact a patient’s life. Recent advances in optics have enabled the above described surgical imaging technology that can allow the surgeon to operate in an un‐impeded manner and easily identify nerves thereby reducing the risk of injuries or having to learn a new technique or incorporate a new instrument. Some of the advantages of this technology include:

  1. Non‐invasive and real‐time imaging
  2. Overcomes the risk of misidentifying nerves and reduces inadvertent trauma
  3. Reduces potential toxicity issues of surgical dyes
  4. Cost‐effective as it uses existing systems


  • Non‐invasive surgical imaging

Stage of Development

  • Validated pre‐clinical data acquired in rodent and swine models

Intellectual Property Status

  • Patent Pending

This technology is available for exclusive or non-exclusive licensing.

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