Researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston have been working on a system that makes tumors fluoresce with the help of some dyes and light emitting diodes. The new device should give surgeons the ability to more completely remove tumors and solve the problem of differentiating tumor from healthy tissue during excisions.
The system is called FLARE, or Fluorescence-Assisted Resection and Exploration. Under development for the past decade, the portable system consists of a near-infrared (NIR) imaging system, a video monitor, and a computer. “The system has no moving parts, uses LEDs instead of lasers for excitation, makes no contact with the patient, and is sterile,” Frangioni says.
The unique system uses special chemical dyes, called NIR fluorophores, that are designed to target specific structures such as cancer cells when the dyes are injected into patients. When exposed to NIR light, which is invisible to the human eye, the dyes or contrast agents light up the cancer cells and are shown on a video monitor. Images of these “glowing” cancer cells are then superimposed over images of the normal surgical field, allowing surgeons to easily see the cancer cells even in a background crowded by blood and other anatomical structures, the researcher says.
Frangioni compares the system to the old color-by-number paint sets. Instead of coloring by numbers, it will provide surgeons with a means of “cutting by color,” he says. The computerized technique also gives physicians the power to control multiple viewing angles and different magnification levels through the use of a footswitch.
Video of the system in action:
Press release: “Cutting by color”: New imaging technique for more precise cancer surgery…