From white to blue light: evolution of endoscope-assisted intracranial tumor neurosurgery and expansion to intraaxial tumors

J Neurosurg 139:59–64, 2023

Intraoperative use of the endoscope to assist in visualization of intracranial tumor pathology has expanded with increasing surgeon experience and improved instrumentation. The authors aimed to study how advancements in endoscopic technology have affected the evolution of endoscope use, with particular focus on blue light–filter modification allowing for discrimination of fluorescent tumor tissue following 5-ALA administration.

METHODS A retrospective analysis of patients undergoing craniotomy for tumor resection at a single institution between February 2012 and July 2021 was performed. Patients were included if the endoscope was used for diagnostic tumor cavity inspection or therapeutic assistance with tumor resection following standard craniotomy and microsurgical tumor resection, with emphasis on those cases in which blue light endoscopy was used. Medical records were queried for patient demographics, operative reports describing the use of the endoscope and extent of resection, associations with tumor pathology, and postoperative outcomes. Preoperative and postoperative MR images were reviewed for radiographic extent of resection.

RESULTS A total of 52 patients who underwent endoscope-assisted craniotomy for tumor were included. Thirty patients (57.7%) were men and the average age was 52.6 ± 16.1 years. Standard white light endoscopes were used for assistance with tumor resection in 28 cases (53.8%) for tumors primarily located in the ventricular system, parasellar region, and cerebellopontine angle. A blue light endoscope for detection of 5-ALA fluorescence was introduced into our practice in 2014 and subsequently used for assistance with tumor resection in 24 cases (46.2%) (intraaxial: n = 22, extraaxial: n = 2). Beyond the use of the surgical microscope as the primary visualization source, the blue light endoscope was used to directly perform additional tumor resection in 19/21 cases as a result of improved fluorescence detection as compared to the surgical microscope. No complications were associated with the use of the endoscope or with additional resection performed under white or blue light visualization.

CONCLUSIONS Endoscopic assistance to visualize intracranial tumors had previously been limited to white light, assisting mostly in the visualization of extraaxial tumors confined to intraventricular and cisternal compartments. Blue light– equipped endoscopes provide improved versatility and visualization of 5-ALA fluorescing tissue beyond the capability of the surgical microscope, thereby expanding its use into the realm of intraaxial tumor resections.