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Special Camera Detects Tumors

‘Multispectral fluorescence system’ makes malignant tissues glow (November 4)

Tumor removal poses a challenge even to skillful and experienced surgeons. For one thing, tumor margins blend into healthy tissue and are difficult to differentiate. Moreover, distributed domains of cancer and premalignancies are difficult to recognize.

Researchers in Germany have developed a new surgical aid, a multispectral fluorescence camera system. In the future, this special camera may be integrated into medical imaging systems, such as surgical microscopes and endoscopes.

The new system is designed to help surgeons visualize even the smallest pieces of malignant tumor during an operation.

The trick: the camera can display fluorescent molecules that “paint” the cancer tissue. These molecules are injected into the patient’s blood before the operation and selectively attach to the tumor. If the corresponding area is illuminated with a specific wavelength, fluorescence is emitted, and the malignant tissue glows green, blue, red, or any other color, depending on the injected dye, while healthy tissue is unaffected. In this way, the surgeon can see clusters of tumors cells that would otherwise go unrecognized.

A prototype of the high-tech system will debut Nov. 20 at a trade fair in Düsseldorf.

Source: Fraunhofer; November 4, 2013.

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