Optical biopsy to detect tumors between healthy tissues


Researchers at Orel State University in Russia have developed a biopsy system that can distinguish between healthy and cancerous tissue in many clinical cases. The device is designed to address the difficulties that doctors may experience when trying to get a biopsy of a liver tumor, where it can be difficult to know if the needle is in the correct location with small, early-stage tumors. The system uses a combination of lifetime fluorescence measurements and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy to identify a tumor.

Obtaining a tumor biopsy is an important first step in identifying its characteristics, which allows doctors to plan treatments accordingly. However, it can be difficult to know for sure that the tissue you just removed with an empty needle actually comes from the tumor itself, especially if the tumor is small and inside the abdominal cavity.

These Russian researchers have designed a biopsy system that could help. “Optical biopsy methods such as the one we have developed allow us to differentiate between healthy and tumor tissues with a high degree of accuracy,” said Elena V. Potapova, a researcher involved in the latter study. “Although our system was specifically designed for use in abdominal surgery, our results show that similar technologies could be useful for other medical applications.”

The technology combines two different ways to identify tumor tissue in near real time. The first is fuzzy reflectance spectroscopy, which measures how light is tested by the tested tissue, and the second is called fluorescence life analysis. This involves inducing bright fluorescence at a specific wavelength of light on a fabric and then calculating how long it takes for the fluorescent signal to disappear.

Molecules involved in cellular metabolism within a tissue affect the time that fluorescence sticks. Because cancer cells have significantly altered metabolism, the technique is useful for a rapid determination of cancer status. “Although our team and others have previously used fluorescence intensity for tissue assessment, studies in other parts of the body have shown that the lifespan of fluorescence depends less on experimental conditions.” said Potapova. “Measurements of fluorescence lifespan remain more consistent in the presence of blood, when there is uneven illumination, or if contact between the probe and tissue changes due to movement.”

The probe is only 1 mm in diameter and the system supports standard 17.5 G biopsy needles.

Study a Express Biomedical Optics: Lifetime needle fluorescence optical biopsy discriminates hepatocellular carcinoma


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