Biopsy needle device incorporates optical imaging probe to assist in brain surgery

An optical imaging probe encased within a brain biopsy needle lets brain surgeons view at-risk blood vessels as they insert the needle.

Researchers at the University of Adelaide (Australia) have developed an optical imaging probe to help make brain surgery safer. The probe, encased within a brain biopsy needle, lets surgeons view at-risk blood vessels as they insert the needle, allowing them to avoid causing bleeding that can potentially be fatal.

Dubbed a "smart needle," the device contains a tiny fiber-optic camera that shines infrared (IR) light to see the vessels before the needle can damage them, explains Robert McLaughlin, the Chair of Biophotonics at the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics, University of Adelaide.

Over the past six months, the smart needle has been used in a pilot trial with 12 patients undergoing neurosurgery at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Western Australia, with hopes that it will be ready for formal clinical trials in 2018. The research team is in discussions with a number of international medical device manufacturers, as they are seeking to manufacture the smart needles in Australia.

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