Novel optical needle probe saves human lives

Modern medicine does not stand still; it uses numerous technologies and devices. Nowadays it is possible to manage diseases that have been impossible to cure before. Also the process of surgery is safer now because scientists are able to examine every part of human body except the one – human brain.

Brain remains the main mystery of our body. It is so complicated and sensitive that brain surgery is considered to be one of the most dangerous processes in medicine, especially, the brain biopsy because there is a chance of intracranial hemorrhage in consequence of vessels located neighbored to the biopsy needle.

Unfortunately, there is no intraoperative technology that can precisely identify blood vessels that could be damaged. That is the main reason why researchers are developing an imaging needle that will solve the problem.

The novel needle consists of a compact optical coherence tomography probe that enables to differentiate blood flow and tissue. This case is the first example of the optical coherence tomography needle probe in human brain in vivo.

The surgery process includes the insertion of the optical probe along the needle way and then it is taken away and the needle is inserted. It should be mentioned that researchers also tried to explore the embeddedness of a multi fiber optical spectroscopy system into the needle for a brain biopsy; however, this research has not be finished.

Moreover, the needle for a brain biopsy must be inserted to a depth of several centimeters that is deeper than with usual optical coherence tomography. That is why novel fiber optic probes have compact size and may be easily joined to the needle. The data demonstrate that this optical needle probe can be used in a great range of tissue:

  • breast biopsy;
  • lung biopsy;
  • brain biopsy.  

Thus, the researchers have created a tiny fiber-optic probe that used optical coherence tomography system.  The fiber probe is the best way to identify cerebral blood vessels and, consequently, prevent intracranial hemorrhage.

The probe is a part of a typical neurosurgical biopsy needle. It is able to identify blood vessels with an accuracy of 91.2% and a specificity of 97.7% that allows successful blood vessels detection at deep level. Moreover, recently this optical needle probe was successfully examined in vivo at human brain.

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