Commenters of my first post about MKEA were concerned I didn't mention Optiscan, who in their opinion has to be considered a cheaper competitor. I knew about Optiscan but didn't think it could be considered a competitor at all. Its medical system (aka the Pentax ISC 1000) is more of a previous experimental attempt at Medical Endomicroscopy. However there looks to be need for some clarification, so I'll dedicate this post to a comparison between the 2.
First and most importantly, it looks like PENTAX Medical (and consequently Optiscan, who licensed the technology to them) is terminating its Medical Endomicroscopy business. However, a few years ago I read that they were focusing on a neurosurgery application with some minor transformations to their tech (it might still be in developpement but to date no actual product has been released). The only reason its endomicroscope is still on their catalogue is because remaining inventory has to be sold.
Secondly, MKEA's tech is Miniprobe Confocal Laser Endomicroscopy, a technology based on complex physics which explanation would require a more lengthy publication here. Basicaly they don't use lenses in the probe and the single optic fiber normally used is replaced with a bundle of tens of thousands of extremely thin optic fibers instead.
Optiscan's device is based on conventional optics and its technological choices lead to the following consequences:
1. Its tech cannot be miniaturized, thus cannot be adapted to all endoscopes. It had to partner with one endoscope maker/ PENTAX (only 10% of endoscopy market), and ended up a commercial failure. MKEA in turn is miniature and can be inserted into any endoscope on the market. Furthermore, its tiny dimensions make it adaptable to many others applications unlike Optiscan's device.
2. Optiscan's device is rigid on a 5cm length (2 inches) at its extremity, making it impossible to use in tiny structures like pancreatic and biliary canals, or lung bronchs, and makes simple endoscopies in some cases difficult to manoeuver. MKEA's device has no impact on endoscopes flexibility and can even be pushed out of the endoscope's extremity to explore tiny regions. The probe part of the system (the part that goes in the endoscopes and can be pushed out to explore) is a 0.8mm (0.03 inches) optic fibers cable until its extremity (and there are thinner versions). do you realize how thin is that?
3. Optiscan's design makes it impossible to do surgery at the same time you're using it. With MKEA this is no problem and is even one of the main reasons it was designed: to check tissues structure and surgically work on them immediately.
4. Optiscan's image refreshment frequency is less than 1 image per second when MKEA's Cellvizio system was 12 frames per seconds in 2011, figure that has probably been enhanced since.
Optiscan Must make HUGE R&D investments through massive dilution if it wants to come close to what MKEA has done. However technologies are so different that this looks totally unlikely.
So here you have it: Can Optiscan's rigid, large, slow, and specialized system compete with the small, flexible, and versatile Cellvizio of MKEA?
MKEA is already clinically (yes clinicaly, not experimentaly) used in hundreds of hospitals (check previous publication and the link it contains for acurate numbers) while Optiscan has retreated to experimental animal aplications.
Thanks in advance for your comments and corrective suggestions.
Disclosure: I am long MKEAF.