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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Perspective on optical imaging for functional assessment in musculoskeletal extremity trauma surgery.

  • Author(s): Gitajn, Ida L
  • Slobogean, Gerard P
  • Henderson, Eric R
  • von Keudell, Arvind G
  • Harris, Mitchel B
  • Scolaro, John A
  • O'Hara, Nathan N
  • Elliott, Jonathan T
  • Pogue, Brian W
  • Jiang, Shudong
  • et al.


Extremity injury represents the leading cause of trauma hospitalizations among adults under the age of 65 years, and long-term impairments are often substantial. Restoring function depends, in large part, on bone and soft tissue healing. Thus, decisions around treatment strategy are based on assessment of the healing potential of injured bone and/or soft tissue. However, at the present, this assessment is based on subjective clinical clues and/or cadaveric studies without any objective measure. Optical imaging is an ideal method to solve several of these issues.


The aim is to highlight the current challenges in assessing bone and tissue perfusion/viability and the potentially high impact applications for optical imaging in orthopaedic surgery.


The prospective will review the current challenges faced by the orthopaedic surgeon and briefly discuss optical imaging tools that have been published. With this in mind, it will suggest key research areas that could be evolved to help make surgical assessments more objective and quantitative.


Orthopaedic surgical procedures should benefit from incorporation of methods to measure functional blood perfusion or tissue metabolism. The types of measurements though can vary in the depth of tissue sampled, with some being quite superficial and others sensing several millimeters into the tissue. Most of these intrasurgical imaging tools represent an ideal way to improve surgical treatment of orthopaedic injuries due to their inherent point-of-care use and their compatibility with real-time management.


While there are several optical measurements to directly measure bone function, the choice of tools can determine also the signal strength and depth of sampling. For orthopaedic surgery, real-time data regarding bone and tissue perfusion should lead to more effective patient-specific management of common orthopaedic conditions, requiring deeper penetrance commonly seen with indocyanine green imaging. This will lower morbidity and result in decreased variability associated with how these conditions are managed.

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