UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering


Shedding light on liver surgery with photoacoustics

Liver cancer affects approximately 1.4 million people globally each year. Surgery is the main form of treatment and around 2,300 resections are performed annually in the UK.

Cancer surgery

27 September 2018

Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure, however, it is technically challenging. Due to the small incision, surgeons have limited vision which increases the risk of cancerous tissue going undetected.

A £493,957 Cancer Research UK grant awarded to Professor Paul Beard, Prof Brian Davidson and colleagues has the potential to boost outcomes for liver cancer surgery. Their research will develop a pioneering new imaging technique, known as photoacoustic imaging (PAI), for use in laparoscopic liver surgery for the first time. The heightened image contrast provided by PAI should make the site and extent of the cancers easier for surgeons to detect and guide their surgical excision.

PAI of colorectal tumours in a mouse

PAI of a colorectal tumour implanted subcutaneously in a mouse

PAI has never before been applied in this context. By improving the efficacy of laparoscopic liver cancer surgery and decreasing the associated risks, more patients could access this form of treatment.

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