The Evolution of 5-Aminolevulinic Acid Fluorescence Visualization: Time for a Headlamp/Loupe Combination

The use of 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) for intraoperative protoporphyrin IX fluorescent imaging in the resection of malignant gliomas has been demonstrated to improve tumor visualization, increase the extent of resection, and extend progression-free survival. The current technique for visualization of 5-ALA consists of excitation and emission filters built into the operating microscope. However, there are notable limitations to this process, including low quantum yield, expense, and masking of surrounding anatomy.

METHODS: We present 3 cases in which 3 separate methods were employed for visualizing fluorescence. The devices reported are 1) a low-cost blue light flashlight, 2) a low-cost headlamp, and 3) the first reported case of the new Designs for Vision REVEAL Fluorescence-Guided Surgery (FGS) 5-ALA fluorescent headlight and loupes. The aim of the study is to provide confirmation that tumor fluorescence can be observed using commercially available products other than the microscope.

RESULTS: We demonstrate through 3 intraoperative cases that a variety of devices can produce visible fluorescence of the high-grade tumor and allow for simultaneous real-time visualization of the adjacent brain parenchyma and vasculature. The REVEAL FGS system appears to offer increased fluorescence emission compared with all other methods, including the microscope. –

CONCLUSIONS: Our study demonstrates the feasibility of using blue/ultraviolet light supplied by a commercially available, inexpensive flashlight or headlamp to visualize 5-ALA fluorescence in high-grade gliomas. We also provide the first documentation of the intraoperative use of the new Designs for Vision REVEAL FGS 5-ALA fluorescent headlight and loupes and report on the experience. Lack of an operative microscope capable of fluorescent illumination should not be a limiting factor in performing fluorescent guided glioma resection

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