Puncturing blood vessels during percutaneous intervention in minimally invasive brain surgery can be a life threatening complication. Embedding a forward looking sensor in a rigid needle has been proposed to tackle this problem but, when using a rigid needle, the procedure needs to be interrupted and the needle extracted if a vessel is detected. As an alternative, we propose a novel optical method to detect a vessel in front of a steerable needle. The needle itself is based on a biomimetic, multi-segment design featuring four hollow working channels. Initially, a laser Doppler flowmetry probe is characterized in a tissue phantom with optical properties mimicking those of human gray matter. Experiments are performed to show that the probe has a 2.1 mm penetration depth and a 1 mm off-axis detection range for a blood vessel phantom with 5 mm s-1 flow velocity. This outcome demonstrates that the probe fulfills the minimum requirements for it to be used in conjunction with our needle. A pair of Doppler probes is then embedded in two of the four working channels of the needle and vessel reconstruction is performed using successive measurements to determine the depth and the off-axis position of the vessel from each laser Doppler probe. The off-axis position from each Doppler probe is then used to generate a 'detection circle' per probe, and vessel orientation is predicted using tangent lines between the two. The vessel reconstruction has a depth root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.3 mm and an RMSE of 15° in the angular prediction, showing real promise for a future clinical application of this detection system.