Autofluorescence lifetime spectroscopy is a promising non-invasive label-free tool for characterization of biological tissues and shows potential to report structural and biochemical alterations in tissue owing to pathological transformations. In particular, when combined with fiber-optic based instruments, autofluorescence lifetime measurements can enhance intraoperative diagnosis and provide guidance in surgical procedures. We investigate the potential of a fiber-optic based multi-spectral time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy instrument to characterize the autofluorescence fingerprint associated with histologic, morphologic and metabolic changes in tissue that can provide real-time contrast between healthy and tumor regions in vivo and guide clinicians during resection of diseased areas during transoral robotic surgery. To provide immediate feedback to the surgeons, we employ tracking of an aiming beam that co-registers our point measurements with the robot camera images and allows visualization of the surgical area augmented with autofluorescence lifetime data in the surgeon’s console in real-time. For each patient, autofluorescence lifetime measurements were acquired from normal, diseased and surgically altered tissue, both in vivo (pre- and post-resection) and ex vivo. Initial results indicate tumor and normal regions can be distinguished based on changes in lifetime parameters measured in vivo, when the tumor is located superficially. In particular, results show that autofluorescence lifetime of tumor is shorter than that of normal tissue (p < 0.05, n = 3). If clinical diagnostic efficacy is demonstrated throughout this on-going study, we believe that this method has the potential to become a valuable tool for real-time intraoperative diagnosis and guidance during transoral robot assisted cancer removal interventions.
João L. Lagarto, Jennifer E. Phipps, Jakob Unger, Leta M. Faller, Dimitris Gorpas, Dinglong M. Ma, Julien Bec, Michael G. Moore, Arnaud F. Bewley, Diego R. Yankelevich, Jonathan M. Sorger, Gregory D. Farwell, and Laura Marcu, "Autofluorescence lifetime imaging during transoral robotic surgery: a clinical validation study of tumor detection (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10039, Optical Imaging, Therapeutics, and Advanced Technology in Head and Neck Surgery and Otolaryngology, 100390E (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 28, 2017; Published: 19 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2253226.5369914028001.
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