High-tech goggles let doctors 'see' cancer cells

Apr 11, 2014

The goggles highlight cancerous cells as surgeons operate, reducing the need for follow-up surgery


A PAIR of high-tech goggles could help surgeons identify and remove cancers by highlighting affected tissue as they operate.
The goggles could reduce the need for secondary operations, the BBC reports. Diseased tissue is often difficult to distinguish from healthy tissue, which means surgeons either remove healthy tissue unnecessarily or miss parts of the cancer, which then regrow.
According to Business Week, between 20 and 40 per cent of women who undergo breast cancer lumpectomies have to return for a second operation.
The new goggles, which also allow surgeons to record and review operations, have been tested on patients suffering from breast and skin cancer.
They were developed by Dr Samuel Achilefu, a professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, who was inspired to develop the technology by military night-vision goggles. He began work on the prototype with funding from the National Cancer Institute after feeling frustrated that doctors were essentially performing operations in the dark, he says.
To use the goggles, doctors first inject the patient with an infrared fluorescent marker, which flows through the body and becomes trapped inside cancer cells. During the operation, an infrared sensor on the goggles detects the location of the diseased cells and displays them to the surgeon on the goggle lenses.

Achilefu told St Louis Post-Dispatch: “It’s such a nice device that I think already we are getting requests from other parts of the world for prototypes. I can see it being used in so many places.”
Work on the goggles, which are expected to cost $10,000 per pair, is likely to be complete by the end of the year. 

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