The endoscope device includes an optical seeker (2) for at least partially inserting into the body or cavity to observe or image an object or part that is difficult to see by the naked eye. The optical seeker of the endoscope device is formed by an optical rod with a refractive index gradient.
Endoscopic equipment for medical purposes in particular
The field of the invention is the field of endoscopic instruments for detecting and observing the interior of organs, pipes or cavities that are difficult to be seen by the naked eye.
More specifically, the invention relates to an endoscope device including an optical seeker designed to be inserted into a body or cavity to visualize or enlarge an object or part that is difficult for the human eye to see.
The invention has a variety of applications, especially in the field of medical imaging (operating endoscope) for internal inspection of human organs for diagnostic and / or therapeutic purposes, or in the industrial field for observing and inspecting the internal structure of hollow bodies and mechanical components.
The following parts of this document will strive to describe more specifically in the field of medical imaging and more particularly in the present patent application
Problems and difficulties in the field of eye imaging (observation of the internal structure of the eye). Of course, the present invention is not limited to this particular field of application, but also focuses on any endoscopic device (or endoscope) for dealing with similar or approximate problems and difficulties.
Endoscopic devices currently used to examine the structure of the human eye include rigid invasive components called optical guides used to pass through the patient's organs. This optical seeker usually consists of a metal tube with an outer diameter of a few millimeters (e.g. with
A stainless steel tube with an outer diameter of 0.9 mm, which accommodates an optical system formed by a series of optical lenses or an optical fiber bundle bonded with an adhesive.
Typically, the optical fiber bundle is connected to an image sensor (such as a video camera) through an adapter, and the image sensor itself is connected to the display screen. The optical fiber bundle can transmit the images of the observed object to the image sensor. After these images are formed, the images are transmitted to the display screen in real time.
The metal tube is also provided with a system for lighting through an optical fiber, which is used to transport the light from the external package provided with the light source to the observation area.
The clamping device is fixedly engaged to the metal tube to facilitate the operation of the endoscope and spatial positioning.
However, this type of endoscope has many disadvantages.
In order to ensure the rigidity of the optical seeker when the optical seeker is inserted into the patient's organ, the metal tube must have a certain thickness. This limits the amount of light reaching the image sensor. Because the amount of detail captured by the image sensor is limited, the quality of the image presented on the screen is relatively reduced.
In addition, whether the optical seeker is formed by an optical lens or an optical fiber, the optical seeker is technically complex and has low manufacturing cost.
Of course, a seeker using an optical lens requires a very accurate set of multiple optical lenses in a metal tube with limited size due to miniaturization requirements (the inner diameter of the tube may sometimes be as small as hundreds of microns) to form an optical objective of the endoscope. Lenses are particularly vulnerable optical components.
In addition, the cable of the seeker usually includes a long (up to several meters) optical fiber bundle, which will lead to non negligible optical loss. The size of the optical fiber cable is large and makes the endoscope difficult to operate.
Finally, in order to avoid any risk of infection for patients, it is necessary to use available sterile endoscopic equipment. For this reason, the endoscope should be disinfected before each use (e.g. by autoclave), which often leads to premature aging of the endoscope. This includes not only the optical seeker and clamping device in direct contact with the patient, but also the optical fiber cable. These characteristics make the operation of autoclave difficult and are the source of system damage and deterioration.
Therefore, there is a need for a low-cost endoscope device that is simple to use, provides assurance in terms of health and safety, and can present high-quality images.
Object of the invention
In at least one embodiment, the object of the invention is particularly to overcome these different disadvantages of the prior art.
More particularly, it is an object of at least one embodiment of the present invention to provide a technology that can be used to obtain a low-cost endoscopic device that is easy to manufacture and assemble.
It is also an object of at least one embodiment of the present invention to provide a type of technology that improves the image quality presented by the endoscope device compared with the image quality presented by the endoscope device of the prior art.
In other words, in at least one embodiment, one of the purposes of the present technology is to make the use of the endoscope device easier in the case of medical imaging, for example.
Another object of at least one embodiment of the present invention is to provide a type of technology to overcome limitations related to premature aging of components due to disinfection operations.