The aim of this study was to engineer ‘click-on’ fluorescence detectors that transform standard robotic instruments into molecular sensing devices that enable the surgeon to detect near-infrared fluorescence signals in tissue grasped during every part of the surgical procedure. When used in combination with fluorescent tracers, this allows for a first step towards tissue characterisation via the surgical instruments themselves.
In oncology, radical surgical resection of cancerous tissue is one of the most efficient forms of treatment. For accurate lesion localization during surgery, image-guided surgery methods play an ever-increasing role. Such methods predominantly rely on radio- and/or fluorescent-tracers to ‘illuminate’ targeted tissues, e.g., sentinel lymph nodes (ICG-99mTc-nanocolloid) and PSMA-positive tumor (99mTc-PSMA I&S). To optimally integrate radioguidance during robot-assisted surgery, a tethered and miniaturized gamma detector for wristed robotic instruments, the so-called DROP-IN gamma-ray-detection probe was engineered. This has resulted in two commercial products that are now CE-marked for routine clinical use (Crystal Photonics GmbH and LightPoint Medical). In one of our most recent clinical studies on this topic, the DROP-IN proved to be superior to the use of fluorescence guidance and rigid laparoscopic gamma probes.