FutureSurgery – Alternative Visualization-Part 3 Near IR Imaging

me-nir.jpgme and NIR microscope systemnir-close.jpgmicroscope

Example– Near IR Microscope:  I have been writing on the concept of alternate visualization systems. That is, the paradigm shift that will occur when endoscopic surgery moves beyond innate human abilities and adds new capabilities. The first of these will be alternative visualizations that lets the surgeon using the scope see things that the naked eye cannot see.

Another technology that will be used in this way is NIR or near infrared. The human eye sees in the visible light spectrum. At the red end beyond our regular human vision spectrum is near infrared (800 nm to 2500 nm). This has been used medically for pulse oximeters since it passes easily through skin. This makes it ideal for imaging deep structures under the peritoneal surface or for the detection of deeper diseases.

While at Nextfest I met with a researcher from GE who was working on microscope systems based on near IR. I predict this technology will migrate down to medical endoscopic use.

Important fact: Unlike other alternate visualization systems such as fluorescence NIR requires a dye to make the image visible. Much of the NIR work I saw was based on using cyanine dyes which can be tagged to various antibodies to allow imaging of the intended disease or anatomic structure.

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