Imaging technique tells tumor tissue from normal tissue, could be used in operating room for real-time guidance of surgery
A new laser-based technology may make brain tumor surgery much more accurate, allowing surgeons to tell cancer tissue from normal brain at the microscopic level while they are operating, and avoid leaving behind cells that could spawn a new tumor.
In a new paper, featured on the coverof the journal Science Translational Medicine, a team of University of Michigan Medical School andHarvard University researchers describes how the technique allows them to “see” the tiniest areas of tumor cells in brain tissue.
They used this technique to distinguish tumor from healthy tissue in the brains of living mice — and then showed that the same was possible in tissue removed from a patient with glioblastoma multiforme, one of the most deadly brain tumors.
Now, the team is working to develop the approach, called SRS microscopy, for use during an operation to guide them in removing tissue, and test it in a clinical trial at U-M. The work was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
A need for improvement in tumor removal
On average, patients diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme live only 18 months after diagnosis. Surgery is one of the most effective treatments for such tumors, but less than a quarter of patients’ operations achieve the best possible results, according to a study published last fall in the Journal of Neurosurgery.
“Though brain tumor surgery has advanced in many ways, survival for many patients is still poor, in part because surgeons can’t be sure that they’ve removed all tumor tissue before the operation is over,” says co-lead author Daniel Orringer, M.D., a lecturer in the U-M Department of Neurosurgery who has worked with the Harvard team since a chance meeting with a team member during his U-M residency.
“We need better tools for visualizing tumor during surgery, and SRS microscopy is highly promising,” he continues. “With SRS we can see something that’s invisible through conventional surgical microscopy.”
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