Are you aware of the time required for diagnosing a tumor? It takes around 30–40 minutes, if a tumor is expected, for the complete process from the removal of the sample from the brain of the patient to its diagnosis. The specimen is taken via a precise procedure of tissue segmenting, staining, fixing, and elucidation by pathologists. A new imaging technology has been developed by a research team from the University of Michigan that can considerably decrease the time required for such diagnoses.
The technique, known as Stimulated Raman Scattering microscopy that was developed back in 2008, was not used in a clinical setting owing to the perilous nature of its lasers. In a recently published study, in Nature Biomedical Engineering, the investigators have clarified the usage of fiber lasers so as to make the device compatible with clinical usage.
The researchers investigated the system in 101 neurosurgical patients using conventional techniques as well as the new technique. Although, both the methods performed similarly, the new technique was appreciably faster. A color coding system was produced by the research team in order to make the interpretation for the pathologists simpler. The color coding system provides images similar to that obtained from the traditional histological processing.
In a blinded test, irrespective of the kind of images provided to the pathologists, they were able to make the accurate diagnosis. This clearly suggests that the new technique can be utilized to speed up the diagnosis. An algorithm was also developed by the researchers using artificial intelligence that can comprehend the images without the assistance of the pathologists. The algorithm provided an accurate diagnosis in 30 patients with almost 90% accuracy.
Performing a larger clinical study would be the next step of the research team. Though at present the prototype produced by the researchers is only for research purpose, it has a vivid potential in being implicated in rapid, distant detection of tumors in brain specimens with minimum sample processing.
Thus, this technique can bring new insights in the field of tumor diagnosis during a surgery and also save the time required. What is your opinion regarding this new method? Feel free to share your thoughts.