At Barrow they used a Scanning Fiber Endoscope (SFE) to detect the glow produced by adding the pro-drug 5-ALA to experimental models of malignant brain tumors. 5-ALA is metabolized in tumors to a fluorescent Porphyrin and is approved for administration to patients to increase the detection of the margin of invading brain glioma tumors, and thereby allow for a wider or more extensive brain tumor removal. SFE allows the neurosurgeon to visualize the fluorescent light produced by 5-ALA earlier and for longer periods of time than visually possible with a standard operative microscope. SFE offers sufficient image resolution to observe individual brain and tumor cells and the scanning feature reduces the photobleaching of the fluorescent signal which can be problematic in the operating room.
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