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Probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy provides real-time microscopic images of tissues contacted by a small probe that can be inserted in vivo through a minimally invasive access. Mosaicking consists in sweeping the probe in contact with a tissue to be imaged while collecting the video stream, and process the images to assemble them in a large mosaic. While most of the literature in this field has focused on image processing, little attention has been paid so far to the way the probe motion can be controlled. This is a crucial issue since the precision of the probe trajectory control drastically influences the quality of the final mosaic. Robotically controlled motion has the potential of providing enough precision to perform mosaicking. In this paper, we emphasize the difficulties of implementing such an approach. First, probe-tissue contacts generate deformations that prevent from properly controlling the image trajectory. Second, in the context of minimally invasive procedures targeted by our research, robotic devices are likely to exhibit limited quality of the distal probe motion control at the microscopic scale. To cope with these problems visual servoing from real-time endomicroscopic images is proposed in this paper. It is implemented on two different devices (a high-accuracy industrial robot and a prototype minimally invasive device). Experiments on different kinds of environments (printed paper and ex vivo tissues) show that the quality of the visually servoed probe motion is sufficient to build mosaics with minimal distortion in spite of disturbances.
Date of Publication: April 2013