Surgeons removing a malignant brain tumor don’t want to leave cancerous material behind. But they’re also trying to protect healthy brain matter and minimize neurological harm.
Once they open up a patient’s skull, there’s no time to send tissue samples to a pathology lab — where they are typically frozen, sliced, stained, mounted on slides and investigated under a bulky microscope — to definitively distinguish between cancerous and normal brain cells.
But a handheld, miniature microscope being developed by University of Washington mechanical engineers could allow surgeons to “see” at a cellular level in the operating room and determine where to stop cutting.
The new technology, developed in collaboration with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Stanford University and the Barrow Neurological Institute, is outlined in a paper published in January in the journal Biomedical Optics Express.