National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) yesterday said that its medical team has successfully developed an intraoperative fluorescence imaging system that allows surgeons to work without having to repeatedly look at a monitor during an operation.
The indocyanine green fluorescence on-site Visualization and Assessment System (iFOVAS) was developed by a team of physicians and researchers from National Taiwan University, NTUH, Wang Fang Municipal Hospital and the National Applied Research Laboratories, the hospital said.
Indocyanine green (ICG) is a fluorescent dye that is used to detect cardiac output, blood flow and lymph circulation; observing tumors, blood flow after coronary artery bypass grafting surgery, lymph nodes in breast cancer patients and blood flow after organ transplantation, said Chen Yih-sharng (陳益祥), a surgeon at NTUH.
The florescence of ICG injected into the body cannot be seen with the naked eye, but can be detected with an infrared camera, so surgeons have to look up at a monitor to determine the location of the surgery site while they operate, Chen said.
“It is not difficult for experienced surgeons, but it might be difficult for doctors with less experience,” he said, adding that lymph nodes can sometimes be only about 0.5cm to 1cm in length and difficult to detect, as they are surrounded by muscle and fat tissue, so surgeons need to check ICG imaging on a monitor.
With the iFOVAS, surgeons can directly see ICG florescence in the patient’s body, helping them operate more intuitively and without distractions, Chen said.
The system was tested on animals and was used in surgeries on a breast cancer patient and a patient with cardiovascular diseases, Chen said, adding that they expect the system to be most helpful in surgeries on cancer patients.