Illumination Challenges in Medical Imaging

Initially, machine vision applications were largely restricted to industrial settings, but in recent times there has been a dramatic increase in the use of vision systems in medical imaging applications. Applications range from endoscopy to vascular imaging, and while each application has its own specific requirements, there are consistent challenges in terms of the illumination.

Form Factor

Medical imaging systems must be compact. In endoscopy applications, the reasons are very obvious, but a compact illuminator is also desirable in larger systems such as vascular imaging systems. Reducing the size of the illuminator can enable a reduction in the overall system footprint. This is an attractive prospect not only for the OEM but also for the end user.


Identifying the optimum wavelength is also a requirement in optimizing illumination for medical imaging applications. Recently, ProPhotonix worked with one of its customers to improve the overall image quality of their vascular imaging system by correctly identifying the specific infrared wavelength. The optimized wavelength solution resulted in a significant improvement in contrast and overall image quality.

To learn more, read our
Vascular Imaging case study


Intensity is the most consistent attribute in medical imaging systems. The system will not perform to its full potential without the correct intensity. The key challenge in achieving high intensity of the illuminator is often managing the trade-off between the size limitations and heat dissipation. Chip-on- board LED technology allows for the direct contact between the LED chips and the thermally efficient substrate, providing the customer with superior thermal management. This LED packaging technology provides the capability to manufacture miniature light sources, such as those used in endoscopy, as well as very dense LED packages in a small form factor, where high intensity in a compact package is required.

Cost considerations

Solutions to technical issues are all very well, but there are also commercial issues that need to be considered. Cost is a major consideration in most medical imaging applications. It is a particularly sensitive issue where the illumination forms part of a single-use component of the system. In this case, the suppliers’ ability to manufacture in volume, and at a low cost, is a key consideration for the customer.

Due to our expertise in the design and manufacture of custom Chip-on-Board LED arrays and custom solutions, ProPhotonix is well positioned to design & manufacture the optimum solution for your medical application.

For more information download our
Custom LED Solutions Brochure

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