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Apparatus and Method for Surgical Instrument With Integral Automated Tissue Classifier

Sections of malignant tissue removed from a patient's body are typically inspected by a pathologist in a lengthy, human-capital intensive procedure. The pathologist ensures that all malignant tissue has been removed by confirming the presence of an outer layer of healthy tissue. Removal of healthy tissue can, however, cause loss of function, pain, and morbidity. Thus, surgeons may attempt to avoid excessive removal of healthy tissue by carefully watching the boundaries of the surgical cavity using a surgical microscope. However, small protrusions and filaments of tumor that escape microscopic detection may lead to metathesis.

In order to enhance patient survival by simultaneously ensuring complete tumor removal and minimizing damage to normal tissue, Dartmouth inventors have developed an instrument for automated identification of tissue types, as well as methods for using the instrument. The instrument optically scans a field of view and obtains spectra that correlate with oxygenated hemoglobin, deoxygenated hemoglobin, reflectance, and/or scattering power at each pixel. The pixels are less than one hundred microns in diameter to allow for interrogation of small anatomical features, and the spectra are classified by comparison to a database of healthy and normal tissue types for the organ of interest. Results are displayed to the surgeon as a color-encoded map of tissue types, which may be used to locate and remove malignant tissue.

These technologies are claimed in published PCT Application No. PCT/US09/68718. We are seeking an industrial partner interested in their licensing and commercialization. (J489)

Last Updated: 7/24/12