MARVEL and 3D brain surgery

MARVEL is the world’s first 3D, high definition endoscope under 4mm with rotating tip .

MARVEL which stands for Multi Angle Rear Viewing tool, has just received the award for Outstanding technology from the federal laboratory Consortium for Innovation in brain surgery

Industry today has shifted from open skull operations to the latest techniques in which a tiny camera and tools are inserted through a small hole in the brain called an endoscope, a device that examines the interior of a body part. To operate on the brain, doctors need to see the fine details on a small scale. Operations with the small camera help surgeons see more intricacies of the tissue they are handling.

No matter how high definition the image of an endoscope may produce, it is still flat, making it difficult for the surgeon to see how close the tumor is to potentially critical nerves or tissues behind it. It can only give the surgeon a clear panoramic view at a fixed angle, zero, 30 or 70 degrees and it can only display its findings on a flat 2D monitor that lacks sense of depth. Also to date, the endoscopes available to brain surgeons are either straight or fixed angle which may not be very convenient to use.

Marvel (developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California), includes a tiny electronic high definition camera as well as a miniature radio transmitter both mounted at the tip of the 3D endoscope.

The image transmitted allows a ‘picture in picture’ on the monitor giving the surgeon superior visibility, depth, perception and ability to place surgical tools with utmost precision. It also helps prevent damage to structures behind the tumor that are hidden.

Seeing the tumor in 3D makes surgeons more likely to achieve a more complete resection leading to quicker recovery and lower costs.

MARVEL is being developed at the JPL for the skull base Institute which has licensed the technology from the California Institute of Technology.

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