The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique is a powerful diagnostic tool which is nowadays commonly used in many fields of medicine. In some cases, especially of the patients of intensive care units, it is highly recommended or even necessary to provide continuous monitoring of basic physiologic parameters, mainly the heart rate and the respiratory rate, during the MRI scan procedure. The presence of a strong magnetic field within the MRI chamber requires application of non-standard devices and solutions. The monitoring system needs to be immune to the strong magnetic field and simultaneously cannot negatively influence on the results of the scan. Therefore, application of optical sensing technologies could be potentially advantageous to fulfil these requirements. In this work we propose a novel optoelectronic measurement system, dedicated to monitoring of the patient during an MRI scan, immune to strong magnetic field and compatible with the MRI apparatus.
Fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs) are used as the sensing elements – the strain induced by the patient’s respiration and cardiac activity cause a change of the Bragg wavelength. These changes can be accurately measured and monitored in the time domain. The respiratory and heart rate can be extracted by further processing of the measured signal by dedicated software. The gratings are organized in a network to maximize the effective sensing area. Each of the FBGs has a different Bragg wavelength so that they can be connected in series.
The information from the sensors is read out using an interrogator based on an application specific photonic integrated circuit (ASPIC), designed and fabricated in an InP-based generic integration technology. The interrogator comprises a 36-channel arrayed waveguide grating wavelength demultiplexer, which outputs are connected to PIN photodiodes. Such a photonic circuit acts as a spectrometer and allows to reconstruct the reflection spectrum of many gratings simultaneously. An external superluminescent LED is used as the light source, however in the target configuration the source could be monolithically integrated with the interrogator. The Bragg gratings, the interrogator and the SLED are connected with each other using an optical circulator.
Initial tests of the monitoring system have been performed using a single fiber Bragg grating as the strain sensor and a commercially available optoelectronic interrogator. The fiber with an inscribed FBG was mounted using an epoxy glue on a PMMA board and deployed under the patient. Two signals can be distinguished out of the measured waves. The first one, with strong and slowly-varying peaks, reflects the respiration of the patient. The second signal, characterized by low-intensity and fast-varying peaks is a result of the cardiac activity. No influence of the magnetic field of the MRI instrument on the sensing system has been observed. The first results have confirmed both the correctness of the approach and the applicability of the system to monitoring the patient’s physical condition during MRI diagnosis.
This work was supported by the National Centre for Research and Development, project OPTO-SPARE, grant agreement PBS3/B9/41/2015.