A new microscope that will help to easily identify brain tumors and precisely remove it during surgery, has been developed by neurosurgeons at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Centre.
The new miniature laser confocal microscope helps see brain tumor regions during surgery and obtain digital images of the tumor and brain tissue.
This was not previously possible without taking biopsies of the tissue.
The microscope captures the image of the tissue after a fluorescent drug is injected into the patient and travels into the tumor.
The researchers could distinguish cancer cells and the margin of the brain tumor without taking a biopsy.
They also found that it was possible to obtain a digital video of the brain tumor to show blood flowing through the abnormal vessels of the tumor and the transition from normal to abnormal brain tissue.
Conventional methods include obtaining several specimens from within a brain tumor using biopsy forceps and cutting, freezing and staining the specimen for examination under the microscope.
It is limited by sampling error and by mechanical tissue damage from the biopsy forceps, slowing operative workflow by 30 to 40 minutes.
The new microscope can overcome these limitations by helping to visualize the cellular and tissue features of a tumor in real-time.
"As neuropathologists become familiar with the new confocal microscopic appearance of various tumor types and grades, the traditional intraoperative diagnosis may be replaced by the real-time analysis of confocal images by the new microscope," said Dr Mark Preul, Newsome Chair of Neurosurgery Research at Barrow.
These images could be analyzed remotely, improving the accuracy of intraoperative diagnosis.