New imaging technique could make brain tumor removal safer, more effective, study suggests

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June 25, 2015

According to, a new imaging technique could be used for the removal of brain tumors. A research team led by Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, M.D., and Xingde Li, Ph.D, at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have begun to use optical coherence tomography (OCT) to identify cancerous brain tissue by its lack of myelin sheath that would normally surround healthy brain cells. “First developed in the early 1990s for imaging the retina, optical coherence tomography operates on the same echolocation principle used by bats and ultrasound scanners, but it uses light rather than sound waves, yielding a higher-resolution image than does ultrasound. One unique feature of OCT is that, unlike X-ray, CT scans or PET scans, it delivers no ionizing radiation to patients.” The technology generates a map for surgeons to indicate cancerous tissue as red and healthy tissue as green. The research team is hoping to begin clinical trials in patients this summer and also apply this technique to help surgeons cut with better precision in other areas of the body.

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Credit: Carmen Kut, Jordina Rincon-Torroella, Xingde Li and Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa/Johns Hopkins Medicine