Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering


UCL Researchers part of EU project to radically improve brain surgery navigation

19 December 2022

illustration of a human brain

The new EU-funded project “Transforming brain surgery by advancing functional-guided neuronavigational imaging” will develop a novel cost-effective, transportable, compact optical imaging system (“HyperProbe”) to measure brain function during surgery to achieve better guidance during brain tumour removal by 2027, significantly improving surgical outcomes for patients.

When removing brain tumours, Neurosurgeons must differentiate between healthy tissue and the tumour and ensure the integrity of the patient’s brain function during and after surgery. They also need to identify tumour borders to precisely remove the tumour while saving healthy tissue. To increase positive outcomes during surgery, surgeons require neuro-navigation systems to provide them with quantitative, accurate and real-time information on brain activity and tumour location.

Current approaches present major limitations as they are very invasive, do not provide the surgeons with sufficient information, or cannot assess brain activity accurately enough. Moreover, biochemical characterisation of the tumour is needed for more precise tumour border detection, which can be achieved through advanced imaging.

The HyperProbe consortium brings together researchers, engineers and physicists in the field of optical imaging and medical device development, computer scientists, artificial intelligence experts, neurologists, and neurosurgeons from eight academic institutions and industry partners from across Europe, including University College London. The consortium will propose a new multifunctional hyperspectral imaging device to provide real-time, quantitative, and accurate assessment of brain activity and tumour borders intraoperatively. Using an optical, contactless, and hence minimally invasive neuroimaging approach, the device will provide exhaustive biochemical information on the brain tissue and tumour features during surgery and cortical activity stimulation. The device will be cost- effective, transportable, easy-to-use and integrate with existing clinical instrumentation that is fully suitable for the operating room.

UCL Physics and Biomedical Engineering Professor and Lead Coordinator from University College London, Ilias Tachtsidis, commented:

After a very competitive process I was very pleased that our Hyperprobe project was funded. We will for the first time translate the hyperspectral optical technologies for monitoring and imaging metabolism that we developed in our lab, to assist neurosurgery for glioblastoma tumour borders identification.

The UCL team comprises of Professor Ilias Tachtsidis and Dr Frederic Lange from the Biomedical Optics Research Laboratory (BORL) and colleagues from the Wellcome / EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences (WEISS). The project will run from October 2022 to September 2027. 

UK participants in Horizon Europe Project University College London (UCL) are supported by UKRI grant number 10048387 (University College London).

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