EMMC First in Maine to “Light Up” Tissue During Robot-Assisted Surgery with Fluorescence Imaging


Eastern Maine Medical Center recently became the first hospital in Maine to use fluorescence imaging during robot-assisted surgery, an advancement that provides surgeons with better visualization of tissue and blood vessels and may lead to fewer complications.
“With this technology, we can make tissue and blood vessels glow a bright green color, which allows us to see actual flow,” says Michelle Toder, MD, physician, EMMC Northeast Surgery, director, EMMC Surgical Weight Loss, and co-chair, EMMC Robotic Steering Committee. “Robot-assisted surgery already allows for exceptional precision and control, and fluorescence imaging is a way for us to further enhance this type of surgery.”
“Lighting up” tissue has several practical applications in the operating room. For example, the technology can be used to highlight the differences between cancerous and non-cancerous tissue, making it more likely that healthy tissue will remain in place, and cancerous tissue will not be left behind during kidney, colon, and uterine surgery. In some cases, surgeons may be able to isolate and remove a cancerous tumor instead of an entire organ. Physicians who use the technology during gallbladder removal surgery can more clearly see the bile ducts, which may lead to better precision and a lower risk of bile duct injuries and leaks. Fluorescence imaging also has benefits during surgical weight loss revision procedures as well as head and neck, pelvic floor, benign colon, and other types of surgery.
Patients do not feel anything different during or after surgery. Prior to the procedure, the surgeon educates the patient about fluorescence imaging. On the day of surgery, dye is injected, which enables the desired anatomy to glow. In the operating room, a camera provides both standard and fluorescent light, allowing the surgeon to switch back and forth between different modes and providing multiple views. After the surgery, the dye leaves the body naturally and has no lingering effects.
Dr. Toder first used fluorescence imaging during a robot-assisted gallbladder removal. The procedure went smoothly, and the patient is on her way to a full recovery.
“I was amazed by how much more information this enhanced view provided during surgery,” says Dr. Toder. “The technology clearly results in better precision, and this is key to making further improvements in the safety of surgery. As a robotic surgery Epicenter, EMMC has shown its commitment to being a leader in surgical care, and fluorescence imaging takes it to an even higher level.”

Watch a video about this technology here.