Medical diagnostics is moving towards non-invasive, portable and inexpensive methods. The Biomedical Optics Research Laboratory (BORL) at the Department of Neonatology, University Hospital Zurich is focused on the development of diagnostic tools using light and their research or clinical application. The wide field of expertise and research includes:
- Quantitative near-infrared spectrophotometry (NIRS), a non-invasive, continuous technique at the bedside, which uses light to analyze tissue, e.g. quantitative measurement of hemoglobin concentration and oxygenation. The expertise of the Biomedical Optics Research Laboratory (BORL) includes the development of NIRS instrumentation (sensors, electronics, spectrometers, chip design), software (drivers, graphic user interfaces, and post-processing) and algorithms (signal analysis, physiological parameter extraction). BORL successfully invented, developed and clinically applied optical technology to study brain, muscle, cervix, breast oxygenation, perfusion and function.
- 3D near-infrared optical tomography (NIROT), where BORL works on instrumentation to investigate tissue in reflection mode up to 3cm deep or transmission mode up to 7cm deep with an unprecedented 3D spatial resolution of ~5mm. These instruments will be capable of non-invasively, rapidly and quantitatively measuring the concentration of oxy- and deoxyhemoglobin, oxygen saturation, cytochrome aa3 redox state, water, lipids and contrast agents in 3D. So far a resolution of 5mm was achieved in the laboratory, which is leading in the field.
- The development of a new sensor principle based on smart materials, which enables to quantitatively and non-invasively measure the concentration of different molecules in the blood.
- Clinical testing and research, such as the assessment of tumor, muscle and brain function, perfusion and oxygenation and the measurement of tissue composition in patients in the hospital during clinical studies. One key application is the functional investigation of the brain. The aim is to develop a method to assess the functional severity of brain lesions in neonatal intensive care patients at the bedside. Brain activity can be observed non-invasively through the intact skull using light. We are using imaging techniques, which allow an online assessment of a whole region of the brain.