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IEEE J Sel Top Quantum Electron. 2010 May;16(3):493-505.

Review of Neurosurgical Fluorescence Imaging Methodologies.

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  • 1Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College, Hanover NH 03755.


Fluorescence imaging in neurosurgery has a long historical development, with several different biomarkers and biochemical agents being used, and several technological approaches. This review focuses on the different contrast agents, summarizing endogenous fluorescence, exogenously stimulated fluorescence and exogenous contrast agents, and then on tools used for imaging. It ends with a summary of key clinical trials that lead to consensus studies. The practical utility of protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) as stimulated by administration of δ-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) has had substantial pilot clinical studies and basic science research completed. Recently multi-center clinical trials using PpIx fluorescence to guide resection have shown efficacy for improved short term survival. Exogenous agents are being developed and tested pre-clinically, and hopefully hold the potential for long term survival benefit if they provide additional capabilities for resection of micro-invasive disease or certain tumor sub-types that do not produce PpIX or help delineate low grade tumors. The range of technologies used for measurement and imaging ranges widely, with most clinical trials being carried out with either point probes or modified surgical microscopes. At this point in time, optimized probe approaches are showing efficacy in clinical trials, and fully commercialized imaging systems are emerging, which will clearly help lead to adoption into neurosurgical practice.

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