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Hyperspectral Imaging Reduces Threat of Amputation

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 12, 2014 — Hyperspectral imaging (HSI) can help surgeons make quick decisions in the operating room, as it detects issues not visible to the naked eye.

Dallas surgeon Javier La Fontaine, Ph.D., associate professor of plastic surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, explained to a MOEMS-MEMS symposium audience at the recent Photonics West 2014 conference that using this imaging technique can reduce the threat of amputation.

“It has saved some patients time spent in returns to the operating room,” he said. “It lets us more comfortably address the severity of the wound infection.”

La Fontaine cited a case in which HSI helped save a patient’s injured toe, which he initially thought would require amputation. HSI was used to monitor oxygen levels in the tissues, which provided instant analysis of this patient’s foot.

Hyperspectral images are found to effectively guide surgeons in the operating room. Courtesy of UT Southwestern Medical Center.

La Fontaine said his first impression had been that both the fifth and fourth toes would have to be removed to eliminate a risk of infection in the dead tissue. Surgeons routinely need to amputate because of infection or lack of blood flow to a part of the body, he noted.

The HSI images helped La Fontaine decide exactly how much dead tissue needed to be removed from the patient’s foot, and he found that only the fifth toe required amputation.

“If you take too little, the wound can get re-infected,” La Fontaine said. “This can lead to a return to the operating room and can lead to a greater level of amputation.”

La Fontaine’s HSI instrument used a Texas Instruments digital micromirror device, a set of millions of tiny mirrors each measuring about 1 µm. The device generates high-resolution images to indicate the presence of certain molecules.

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