Study identifies new way to biopsy brain tumors in real time

Nov 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: Neurobiology online course to attempt world's largest memory experiment

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Fluorescent cancer cells to guide brain surgeons

Apr 03, 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, ...

MRI: A window to genetic properties of brain tumors

Mar 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 ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

More news stories

Computer screening could help patients and healthcare

A trial of a new patient care model, which uses over-the-phone consultations and computers to help better understand the needs of the patient, has begun this week, led by researchers at the University of Adelaide.

In the 'slime jungle' height matters

(Phys.org) —In communities of microbes, akin to 'slime jungles', cells evolve not just to grow faster than their rivals but also to push themselves to the surface of colonies where they gain the best access ...

Robot scouts rooms people can't enter

(Phys.org) —Firefighters, police officers and military personnel are often required to enter rooms with little information about what dangers might lie behind the door. A group of engineering students at ...

New alfalfa variety resists ravenous local pest

(Phys.org) —Cornell plant breeders have released a new alfalfa variety with some resistance against the alfalfa snout beetle, which has ravaged alfalfa fields in nine northern New York counties and across ...