Evaluation of morphological characteristics of retinal vessels

The accurate and timely monitoring of hypertension-related diseases is important for a population screening and follow up, to prevent the onset and to assure proper treatment. The evaluation of morphological characteristics of small resistance arteries in human beings in not easy. The gold standard is generally considered the evaluation of the media to lumen ratio of subcutaneous small vessels obtained by local biopsies and measured by wire or pressure micromyography. 

However, non-invasive techniques for evaluation of retinal arterioles were proposed, in particular two approaches seem to provide interesting information: scanning laser Doppler flowmetry and adaptive optics; both of them provide an estimation of the wall to lumen ratio (WLR) of retinal arterioles.

The Laboratory is involved in the assessment of the efficiency and efficacy of a recently developed non invasive diagnostic instrument, able to provide high-quality images of the retina, by means of adaptive optics. In collaboration with the Chair of Internal Medicine of the University (Prof. D. Rizzoni), the instrument and its software are tested for accuracy and repeatability on artificial vessel models, and on a database of subjects.

Based on the data collected so far, the instrument performs in a quite satisfactory way as compared to the previously used techniques.

Related publications

Ciuceis, C.; Caletti, S.; Coschignano, M. A.; Rossini, C.; Duse, S.; Docchio, F.; Pasinetti, S.; Zambonardi, F.; Semeraro, F.; Sansoni, G.; Agabiti Rosei, C.; Pileri, P.; Agabiti Rosei, E.; Rizzoni, D. “Comparison between techniques of evaluation microvascular morphology: The gold-standard locally invasive micromyography vs. three non-invasive techniques. Preliminary data.” Artery Research, Vol 20, pp 95-96. 2017

Rizzoni, D.; Agabiti Rosei, C.; De Ciuceis, C.; Semeraro, F.; Rizzoni, M.; Docchio, F. “New Methods to Study the Microcirculation“, American Journal of Hypertension, Vol 31, Issue 3, pp 265–273. 2018

Nardin, M.; Coschignano, M. A.; Rossini, C.; De Ciuceis, C.; Caletti, S.; Rizzoni, M.; Docchio, F.; Porteri, E.; Rizzoni, D. Methods of evaluation of microvascular structure: state of the art“, European Journal of Translational and Clinical Medicine, Vol 1, pp 7-17. 2018

A depth-from-defocus (DFD) measurement system using a liquid lens objective for extended depth range

A novel Depth From Defocus (DFD) measurement system is has been developed. Here the extension of the measurement range is performed using an emergent technology based on liquid lenses. A suitable set of different focal lengths, obtained by properly changing the liquid lens supply voltage, provides multiple camera settings without duplicating the system elements or using moving parts.

A simple and compact setup, with a single camera/illuminator coaxial assembly is obtained. The measurement is based on an active DFD technique using modulation measurement profilometry(MMP) for the estimation of the contrast at each image point as a function of the depth range.

A suitable combination of multiple contrast curves, each one derived at a specific focal length, is proposed to extend the measurement range and to improve the measurement performances with respect to the state of the art.

The system measurement errors are 0.53 mm over an extended measurement depth range of 135 mm, corresponding to 0.39 % of the depth range, resulting in an improved performance with respect to the state of the art DFD systems, for which typical values are in the 0.7-1.6 % of the depth range.

Related publications

Pasinetti, S.; Bodini, I.; Lancini, M.; Docchio, F.; Sansoni, G. “A Depth From Defocus Measurement System Using a Liquid Lens Objective for Extended Depth Range“, IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement, Vol 66, no. 3, pp. 441-450. 2017

A novel optical apparatus for the study of rolling contact wear/fatigue based on a high-speed camera and multiple-source laser illumination

Rolling contact wear/fatigue tests on wheel/rail specimens are important to produce wheels and rails of new materials for improved lifetime and performance, able to work in harsh environments and at high rolling speeds. We have developed a novel non-invasive, all-optical system, based on a high-speed video camera and multiple laser illumination sources, which is able to continuously monitor the dynamics of the specimens used to test wheel and rail materials, in a Laboratory test bench.

3D macro-topgraphy and angular position of the specimen are simultaneously performed, together with the acquisition of surface micro-topography, at speeds up to 500 rpm, making use of a fast camera and image processing algorithms. Synthetic indexes for surface micro-topography classification are defined, the 3D macro-topography is measured with a standard uncertainty down to 0.019 mm, and the angular position is measured on a purposely developed analog encoder with a standard uncertainty of 2.9°. The operate with very small camera exposure time enables to obtain blur-free images with excellent definition. The system will be described with the aid of end-cycle specimens, as well as of in-test specimens.

Related Publications

Bodini, I.; Sansoni, G.; Lancini, M.; Pasinetti, S.; Docchio, F. “A novel optical apparatus for the study of rolling contact wear/fatigue based on a high-speed camera and multiple-source laser illumination“, Review of Scientific Instruments, Vol 87. 2016

Bodini, I.; Sansoni, G.; Lancini, M., Pasinetti, S.; Docchio, F. “Feasibility study of a vision system for on-line monitoring of rolling contact fatigue tests“, Journal of Physiscs: Conference Series, Vol 778. 2017

Bodini, I.; Petrogalli, C.; Mazzù, A.; Faccoli, M.; Lancini, M.; Pasinetti, S.; Sansoni, G.; Docchio, F. “On-line 2D monitoring of rolling contact fatigue/wear phenomena in dry tests“, Journal of Physics: Conference Series, Vol. 882. 2017

Innovative, fast autofocusing system with liquid lens objective

Vision-based measurement techniques have become very important in the biomedical field, especially for macro applications such as fingerprints detection, retinal measurements and melanomas analysis. These applications usually require fast and accurate focusing systems to rapidly acquire the optimal image for the successive elaborations. Applications in macro regions also need a stable focus to systems that suffer from low frequency vibrations due to the natural oscillations of the human body.

Liquid lens objectives have become popular in the last years thanks to their small dimensions (apertures goes from 3 mm to 10 mm), low power consumption (less than 0.1 mW) and fast response time (about 15 ms) [1]. These characteristics make the liquid lens objectives suitable for autofocusing systems, which require high velocity, good accuracy and good stability. The high-speed control of liquid lens objectives requires smart algorithms for the autofocusing procedure, especially in macro regions.

We developed a new system for biomedical macro applications. It uses a liquid lens objective, which implements a voltage control of the focal length, and an autofocus algorithm. The algorithm finds the best focus position using a two-stage search: a coarse searching and a fine searching. This approach combines high accuracy and high speed of convergence.

Figure 1 - Scheme of the autofocus algorithm.

The control variable of the algorithm is the clearness of the acquired image. Various indexes of clearness have been studied to implement the algorithm. Among these, two indexes have been selected, based on the absolute and on the squared values of the image derivatives respectively [2]. 

The black curve in figure 2 is the image clearness within the focal length range. The blue and the green areas represent the range in which the algorithm performs a coarse search and a fine search respectively. The red dots correspond to the values of clearness at different focal lengths, at each iteration of the algorithm. As a first step, a coarse search of the best focus position is carried out by varying the focal length from point (1) to subsequent points, until the green region is reached: in the figure, this process is performed in two steps, from point (1) to point (3). Then, the fine search is carried out: here, small increments of the focal length are considered, and the corresponding values of clearness are computed. A suitable threshold based algorithm is used to evaluate both the sign and the entity of the corresponding variations, and to choose the correct convergence direction. In the figure, this process is schematically represented by the path from point (3) to point (5), which corresponds to the best focus position.

Figure 2 - Algorithm approach using a template image.

The algorithm shows good performances in terms of speed of execution and accuracy and exhibits good results in real macro applications such as fingerprints, retinal and melanomas analysis. The algorithm has a good focus stability also with hand-held systems.

Related Publications

Pasinetti, S.; Bodini, I.; Sansoni, G.; Docchio, F.; Tinelli, M.; Lancini, M. “A fast autofocus setup using a liquid lens objective for in-focus imaging in the macro range“, AIP Conference Proceedings, Vol. 1740. 2016

Pasinetti, S.; Bodini, I.; Lancini, M.; Docchio, F.; Sansoni, G. “A Depth From Defocus Measurement System Using a Liquid Lens Objective for Extended Depth Range“, IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement, Vol. 66, no. 3, pp. 441-450. 2017

Pasinetti, S.; Bodini, I.; Lancini, M.; Docchio, F.; Sansoni, G. “Experimental characterization of an autofocus algorithm based on liquid lens objective for in-focus imaging in the macro range“, 2017 7th IEEE International Workshop on Advances in Sensors and Interfaces (IWASI), pp. 195-200. 2017

Pasinetti, S.; Bodini, I.; Lancini, M.; Docchio, F.; Sansoni, G. “Automatic selection of focal lengths in a Depth From Defocus measurement system based on liquid lenses“, Optics and Lasers in Engineering, Vol. 96, pp. 68-74. 2017

The ReWalk Project

The objective of this research activity is to analyze and model the behavior of ReWalk™ exoskeletons during SCI patients training

Powered exoskeletons can be used by persons with complete spinal cord injury (SCI) to achieve bipedal locomotion. The training required before being able to efficiently operate these orthotics, however, is currently based on subjective assessments of the patient performance by his therapist, without any quantitative information about internal loads or assistance level.
To solve this issue, a sensor system was developed, combining traditional gait analysis systems such as ground reaction force (GRF) platforms and motion capture systems, with instrumented Lofstrand crutches, created by our team.

To each crutch three strain-gauge bridges were applied, to measure both axial and shear forces, as well as conditioning circuits with transmission modules, a tri-axial accelerometer, and a power management circuit with two batteries. Data are transmitted wirelessly via Bluetooth to a personal computer, and every care was taken to avoid interfering with the user’s gait.

An inverse dynamics analysis, on a simplified biomechanical model of the subject wearing the exoskeleton, is then used to assess both the internal forces acting on shoulders, elbows and neck of the subject, as well as the loads acting on joints. The same analysis was also used to quantify the assistance provided to the user during walking, in terms of vertical forces applied by the therapist to the exoskeleton.

These information could be used to teach orthopedic patients to correctly use these supports and minimize problems connected to their usage, making easier for SCI patients to adopt these devices, and increasing their quality of life, while reducing the costs sustained by the community.

Related Publications

Sardini, E.; Serpelloni, M.; Lancini, M.; Pasinetti, S. “Wireless Instrumented Crutches for Force and Tilt Monitoring in Lower Limb Rehabilitation“, Procedia Engineering, Vol. 87, pp. 348-351. 2014

Pasinetti, S.; Lancini, M.; Pasqui, V. “Development of an optomechanical measurement system for dynamic stability analysis“, 2015 6th International Workshop on Advances in Sensors and Interfaces (IWASI), pp. 199-203. 2015

Lancini, M; Serpelloni, M.; Pasinetti, S. “Instrumented crutches to measure the internal forces acting on upper limbs in powered exoskeleton users“, 2015 6th International Workshop on Advances in Sensors and Interfaces (IWASI), pp. 175-180. 2015

Lancini, M.; Serpelloni, M.; Pasinetti, S.; Guanziroli, E. “Healthcare Sensor System Exploiting Instrumented Crutches for Force Measurement During Assisted Gait of Exoskeleton Users“, IEEE Sensors Journal, Vol. 16, Issue 23, pp. 8228-8237. 2016