State-of-the-art neurosurgery intervention relies heavily on information from tissue imaging taken at a pre-operative stage. However, the data retrieved prior to performing an opening in the patient’s skull may present inconsistencies with respect to the tissue position observed by the surgeon during intervention, due to both the pulsing vasculature and possible displacements of the brain. The consequent uncertainty of the actual tissue position during the insertion of surgical tools has resulted in great interest in real-time guidance techniques. Ultrasound guidance during neurosurgery is a promising method for imaging the tissue while inserting surgical tools, as it may provide high resolution images. Microfabrication techniques have enabled the miniaturisation of ultrasound arrays to fit needle gauges below 2 mm inner diameter. However, the integration of array transducers in surgical needles requires the development of advanced interconnection techniques that can provide an interface between the microscale array elements and the macroscale connectors to the driving electronics. This paper presents progress towards a novel packaging scheme that uses a thin flexible printed circuit board (PCB) wound inside a surgical needle. The flexible PCB is connected to a probe at the tip of the needle by means of magnetically aligned anisotropic conductive paste. This bonding technology offers higher compactness compared to conventional wire bonding, as the individual electrical connections are isolated from one another within the volume of the paste line, and applies a reduced thermal load compared to thermo-compression or eutectic packaging techniques. The reduction in the volume required for the interconnection allows for denser wiring of ultrasound probes within interventional tools. This allows the integration of arrays with higher element counts in confined packages, potentially enabling multi-modality imaging with Raman, OCT, and impediography. Promising experimental results and a prototype needle assembly are presented to demonstrate the viability of the proposed packaging scheme. The progress reported in this work are steps towards the production of fully-functional imaging-enabled needles that can be used as surgical guidance tools.
- tissue imaging
- neurosurgical needles