Lung tool wins award

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Photo: Thor Nielsen / SINTEF
Lung specialist Håkon O. Leira inserts a present-day bronchoscope into a physical model of human lungs. The large screen shows what the examination instrument “sees.” Tor Helge Hansen (left) and Thomas Langø are working to enable more accurate and efficient control of the bronchoscope.

Gemini NTNU Research News

The team behind a new medical navigation system that makes it easier to take biopsy samples from the lungs recently received an international innovation award during Innovation Expo 2018 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The project, known as “Mariana,” is developing better tracking, navigation, and catheterization technology for doctors, based on 3-D ultrasound images. This will enable more accurate and efficient control of the bronchoscope, the long, thin tool used by pulmonary specialists to collect samples of small, suspicious objects discovered in X-ray images. This can potentially triple the success rate of lung cancer diagnosis.

Lung cancer is the most frequent cause of cancer-related deaths in the world. Because patients often show few symptoms in the early stages, delay in examination and treatment is one of the major contributions to the high mortality rate. Using the Mariana technology, the success rate of biopsies in the outer air passages of the lungs is improved markedly.

The technology has been developed by, among others, research scientists and technologists at SINTEF, doctors at St. Olav’s Hospital, and the Trondheim company Ceetron AS.

Mariana is a collaborative project involving participants from industry, research, and academia in three European countries. Each country has its own field of responsibility: the Netherlands is responsible for the actual biopsy instrument, Ireland for the tracking system, while the Norwegian team is developing the software.

The innovation award was provided by the European organization EUREKA and the Eurostars program, with the aim of supporting small and medium-sized European companies developing innovative systems.

“We have collaborated to develop a system that improves navigation and our ability to reach the most deep-seated parts of the lungs. We are doing this by combining state-of-the-art tracking technology, cloud-based 3-D image management technology and the design of controllable instruments,” says Thomas Langø, a senior research scientist at SINTEF.

This article originally appeared in the November 16, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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