Anew tool for medical professionals may help shed more light on tumors in the body and how the brain operates. Researchers created technology that uses optical imaging to better help surgeons map out tumors in the body and help them understand how certain diseases affect activity in the brain.

Light is used to extract new information from tissue to inform doctors and assist them in designing and carrying out surgeries to remove tumors. The localization method helps the surgeon pinpoint precise information about the depth and location of tumors. Such information is not easily accessible with current technologies.

The technology uses contrast in the absorption of light and fluorescent agents that are introduced into the body to find tumors and/or blood vessels within the tissue. This allows illumination and interrogation of structures within the tissue. Through modeling and inversion algorithms, the size, shape, and location of tumors and blood vessels can be determined. The same technology can be used to study neuron activation in the brain, which can help doctors detect diseases such as Parkinson’s.

The technology overcomes one of the major challenges with fluorescence imaging — the light becomes highly scattered and limits the information that a surgeon receives. The new method provides more detailed information about tumors and neuron activity in the brain, both of which can improve outcomes for patients.

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