Multispectral Fluorescence Camera Makes Tumors Visible

14 November 2013
Scientists at the Fraunhofer Project Group for Automation in Medicine and Biotechnology (PAMB) have developed a multispectral fluorescence camera system that can provide images during surgery of the smallest malignant pieces of a tumor, which are usually hard to detect. The novel device could be of huge help to surgeons and support them during complex interventions.
The camera is a major breakthrough since tumorous material tends to mix with surrounding healthy tissue, making it difficult to distinguish. The device developed by the researchers at PAMB, part of the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation, can display fluorescent dye molecules that colour the cancerous tissue. Before the surgery starts, the molecules are injected into the patient's blood circulation and then attach to the affected tissue. When the area to be treated during the operation is illuminated with a specific wavelength, fluorescence is emitted and the affected tissue starts to shine green, blue, red or another color, based on the dye used, with the healthy tissue preserving its original color. By making malignant tissue visible, surgeons can spot clumps of tumorous cells.
The images taken by the camera need only one camera and a set of filters to present up to four dyes at the same time. The images are then processed with in-house developed software in seconds and displayed on a monitor in the operating room.
A prototype of the camera will be presented during the Medica Trade Fair, which will take place in Düsseldorf, Germany, between 20 and 23 November. The main advantage of the device that the researchers will seek to highlight is its capacity to display a number of fluorescent dyes and to provide a real-time reflectance image at the same time.