Real-time dual-modal vein imaging system



In this paper, we present a vein imaging system to combine reflectance mode visible spectrum images (VIS) with transmission mode near-infrared (NIR) images in real time. Clear vessel localization is achieved in this manner with combined NIR–VIS dual-modal imaging.


Transmission and reflectance mode optical instrumentation is used to combine VIS and NIR images. Two methods of displaying the combined images are demonstrated here. We have conducted experiments to determine the system’s resolution, alignment accuracy, and depth penetration. Vein counts were taken from the hands of test subjects using the system and compared with vein counts taken by visual analysis.


Results indicate that the system can improve vein detection in the human hand while detecting veins of a diameter < 0.5 mm at any working distance and of a 0.25 mm diameter at an optimal working distance of about 30 cm. The system has also been demonstrated to clearly detect silicone vessels with artificial blood of diameter 2, 1, and 0.5 mm diameter under a tissue depth of 3 mm. In a study involving 25 human subjects, we have demonstrated that vein visibility was significantly increased using our system.


The results indicate that the device is a high-resolution solution to near-surface venous imaging. This technology can be applied for IV placement, morphological analysis for disease state detection, and biometric analysis.

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This study was supported in part by grants from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship NNX14AL37H), NSF Grant MCB-1616216, and the University of Akron Startup Funds.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yang Liu.

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Ethical statement

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. Additional informed consent was obtained from all individual participants for whom identifying information is included in this article.

Electronic supplementary material

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Demonstration video of how the system works in real time. It is intuitive and user-friendly (MP4 13971 kb)

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Mela, C.A., Lemmer, D.P., Bao, F.S. et al. Real-time dual-modal vein imaging system. Int J CARS 14, 203–213 (2019).

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  • Near-infrared
  • Vein detection
  • Optical imaging
  • Computer vision