Real-time Quantitative Imaging of Blood Flow During Surgery: A Method to Efficiently Produce Laser Speckle Contrast Images

Life Sciences : Diagnostics

Available for licensing


  • Andrew Dunn, Ph.D. , Biomedical Engineering
  • William Tom , Biomedical Engineering
  • Ashwin Parthasarathy , Biomedical Engineering

Background/unmet need

Laser speckle contrast images provide information about movement within a diffuse system, such as visualization of blood flow. Blood-flow imaging has the potential to improve the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of biomedical procedures (e.g., brain or eye surgery), as well as treatment of burns or wounds. Inventors at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a novel method to produce real-time imaging of blood flow which utilizes laser speckle imaging and enables spatial mapping of oxygenation levels in biological tissues in vivo.

The real-time aspect of this imaging tool allows for revolutionary developments in biomedical imaging. For example, a device that allows real-time blood flow illustration would enable a brain surgeon to visualize the margins of a tumor or to better treat an aneurysm.

Invention Description

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed an original method to generate real-time imaging of blood flow during surgery through the use of laser speckle contrast. The invention tackles the major limitations on current technologies.

The first limitation on present methods is the speed at which images of blood flow can be processed. Current methods require processing speeds much slower than real-time, making this application unfeasible for use in surgical applications. The UT invention utilizes novel software and algorithms which solve this problem, allowing real-time image processing. Real-time visualization has the potential to revolutionize surgical procedures in which blood flow imaging is critical.

This novel technology also leaps over the low quantitative accuracy of current methods. Present imaging technologies are limited to relative changes in blood flow. The method this UT invention employs improves quantitative accuracy by utilizing an original camera technique.

A simple yet revolutionary technique is employed by this original laser speckle contrast imaging method. This technology offers a novel tool for an existing market. Teams of neurosurgeons from two separate medical institutions have validated the end-user need for such a device. Interested parties will benefit from the fact that Dr. Dunn has received a combination of NSF and NIH funding that totals to almost $1M. In addition, the product is relatively inexpensive to produce, and both the device and software can be readily integrated into existing surgical microscopes. The high processing speeds of this device offer real-time imaging of blood flow, allowing for advancements in techniques utilized by surgeons.

Furthermore, Dr. Dunn has developed a novel approach for spatially mapping oxygenation levels in biological tissues in vivo that provides spatial specificity, which previous approaches for determining oxygenation levels either do not provide or use a more expensive means for achieving.


  • Processing of laser speckle contrast images at real-time speed
  • Platform technology useful in multiple laser imaging medical procedures
  • Useful for biomedical imaging of blood flow for a variety of procedures, such as: detection of atherosclerotic plaques; brain, heart, eye or plastic surgery; assessment of blood flow in a burn area or a wound; and as a diagnostic tool
  • Quantitative flow measurements consistent in presence of static tissue elements like a thinned skull or skin
  • Relatively low cost and easy to use with excellent spatial and temporal resolution

Market potential/applications

Optical imaging device companies in the medical field.

Development Stage

Lab/bench prototype

IP Status