Study identifies new way to biopsy brain tumors in real time

November 11, 2009

A new miniature, hand-held microscope may allow more precise removal of brain tumors and an easier recognition of tumor locations during surgery.

Neurosurgeons at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center are using the new miniature laser confocal microscope to view 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 is used to image the tissue after a fluorescent drug is injected into the patient and travels into the tumor. The first application of the technology in the research lab at Barrow showed that it was possible to distinguish and the margin of the brain tumor without taking a biopsy. Barrow researchers also discovered 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 .

Typically, intraoperative diagnosis is performed by obtaining several specimens from within a brain tumor using biopsy forceps and cutting, freezing and staining the specimen for examination under the microscope. The traditional analysis is limited by sampling error and by mechanical tissue damage from the 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 in the study, the probe can be moved over the entire visible extent of a tumor, guiding the neurosurgeon to hypercellular or aggressive areas that are likely to generate high-yield biopsies.

"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 ," says Mark Preul, MD, Newsome Chair of Neurosurgery Research at Barrow. These images could be analyzed remotely, improving the accuracy of intraoperative diagnosis.

This study was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons in San Diego and was recently published in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

Source: St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center

Explore further: Children's Hospital Boston neurosurgeons to perform brain tumor removal during live Web cast

Related Stories

MRI: A window to genetic properties of brain tumors

March 24, 2008

Doctors diagnose and prescribe treatment for brain tumors by studying, under a microscope, tumor tissue and cell samples obtained through invasive biopsy or surgery. Now, researchers at UCSD School of Medicine have shown ...

Fluorescent cancer cells to guide brain surgeons

April 3, 2009

Gliomas are malignant brain tumors that arise from glial (supporting) cells of the brain. Gliomas are often resistant to chemotherapy. These tumors grow fine extensions that infiltrate normal brain tissue and, in addition, ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.