Optical fiber technology enables smart needles for epidurals: an in-vivo swine study

Biomed Opt Express. 2019 Feb 21;10(3):1351-1364. doi: 10.1364/BOE.10.001351. eCollection 2019 Mar 1.


Nowadays, epidural space identification is made by using subjective and manual techniques characterized by failure rates up to 7%. In this work, we propose a fiber optic sensor technology based needle guidance system, that is directly inspired by the most common technique currently used for epidurals; through real-time strain measurements, the fiber Bragg grating integrated inside the needle lumen is able to effectively perceive the typical force drop occurring when the needle enters the epidural space. An in vivo swine study demonstrates the validity of our approach, paving the way for the development of lab-in-a-needle systems.