Planet-hunting camera could be surgery aid

LOS ANGELES, July 12 (UPI) -- An ultraviolet-light camera used to explore the galaxy could be used in operating rooms to aid surgeons performing delicate brain surgery, U.S. doctors say.

Neurosurgeons and researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles say when focused on brain tissue, the camera could give surgeons a real-time view of changes invisible to the naked eye and difficult to see even with magnification of current medical imaging technologies.


A pilot study will seek to determine whether the camera can provide visual detail to help surgeons distinguish areas of healthy brain from deadly tumors called gliomas, which have irregular borders as they spread into normal tissue.

"Our goal is to revolutionize the way neurological disorders are treated," neurosurgeon Keith L. Black said. "Ultraviolet imaging is one of several intraoperative technologies we are pursuing."

Delineating the margin where tumor cells end and healthy cells begin never has been easy, but the camera could, by seeing below the surface during open-skull surgery, be a help in identifying the cancer cells, surgeons say.

The camera, on loan from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, employs ultraviolet technology used to study planets and distant galaxies.


"The ultraviolet imaging technique may provide a 'metabolic map' of tumors that could help us differentiate them from normal surrounding brain tissue, providing useful, real-time, intraoperative information," Ray Chu, one of the neurosurgeons leading the study, said in a Cedars-Sinai release.

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