In Vivo Inspection of the Olfactory Epithelium: Feasibility of Robotized Optical Biopsy


Inspecting the olfactory cleft can be of high interest, as it is an open access to neurons, and thus an opportunity to collect in situ related data in a non-invasive way. Also, recent studies show a strong link between olfactory deficiency and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases. However, no inspection of this area is possible today, as it is very difficult to access. Only robot-assisted interventions seem viable to provide the required dexterity. The feasibility of this approach is demonstrated in this article, which shows that the path complexity to the olfactory cleft can be managed with a concentric tube robot (CTR), a particular type of continuum robot. First, new anatomical data are elaborated, in particular for the olfactory cleft, that remains hardly characterized. 3D reconstructions are conducted on the database of 20 subjects, using CT scan images. Measurements are performed to describe the anatomy, including metrics with inter-subject variability. Then, the existence of collision-free passageways for CTR is shown using the 3D reconstructions. Among the 20 subjects, 19 can be inspected using only 3 different robot geometries. This constitutes an essential step towards a robotic device to inspect subjects for clinical purposes.

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This work was supported by the French National Agency for Research within the Biomedical Innovation program (NEMRO ANR-14-CE17-0013), and the Investissements d’Avenir (Robotex ANR-10-EQPX-44, Labex CAMI ANR-11-LABX-0004 and Labex ACTION ANR-11-LABX-0001-01).

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No benefits in any form have been or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Cédric Girerd.

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Associate Editor Cameron N. Riviere oversaw the review of this article.

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Girerd, C., Lihoreau, T., Rabenorosoa, K. et al. In Vivo Inspection of the Olfactory Epithelium: Feasibility of Robotized Optical Biopsy. Ann Biomed Eng 46, 1951–1961 (2018).

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  • Olfactory epithelium
  • ENT
  • Robot-assisted intervention
  • Continuum robot
  • OCT