The human body as a coloring book for surgery?

Hello everyone!

This week, I had a bit of trouble finding anything suitable to post as I lacked a little inspiration, however then it hit me, TED talks!
TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is an annual conference consisting of various speakers which bring up various topics and shed an (interesting: I’ll let you decide) light/opinion regarding this topic.
So I browsed youtube and typed in “Ted talks and Fluorescence” .I got the following result: 

Roughly summarized this video explains us how surgeons can you use fluorescence to mark or “color” our body so they can enhance their vision for incisions in their surgeries.

While medicine students have a long studying career ahead of them with all sorts of graphical textbooks preparing them to practice medicine and perform surgeries. The textbooks (usually illustrated with colored drawings as the figure of a heart below demonstrates) still differ (alot) from the real human body where almost all tissues look like a color pallete of red. Relations_of_the_aorta,_trachea,_esophagus_and_other_heart_structures

The woman in the video above discusses that even veteran surgeons sometimes have problems distinguishing cancer tissue from “healthy” tissue while incizing. This can create problems as biopsies (tissue taken from the human body for further examination) from surrounding tissue have to be performed to be certain all the cancerous tissue has been removed. This is time consuming and can cause extra surgeries if not everything was removed in the first place.
Wouldn’t it be better if you could somehow make the cancerous tissue visible and separable from all the other tissue? Well this woman and her team have found a solution to this problem. They created tissuemarkers based on fluorescence to color specific tissues in our body. Depending on the tissuemarker’s composition they will “stick” to specific tissue (mostly cancerous tissue) so surgeons can “easily” remove this tissue. They can even color other tissue and organs such as nerves with an other fluorescent color to prevent wrong incisions basically creating a color book of your body! How cool is that?

However, while I think this technique of surgery is quite interesting to say the least, she doesn’t mention anything about disadvantages or side effects.
Since the TED talk dates back from 2011 and this video is the first thing I have ever seen from this technique myself, I wonder why this hasn’t broken through yet in our medicine world and if the side effects still have too much impact to put this fluorescence coloring of the human body to work.

Any thoughts about this blog? Feel free to comment!

See you guys, next week!


7 gedachten over “The human body as a coloring book for surgery?

  1. I think I found a answer on your question “why this hasn’t broken through yet in our medicine world”: “we’ve discovered that there’s actually no straightforward mechanism to develop a molecule for one-time use.” If I did understand it well then they still don’t use it because they can’t bring it in the human body.

    Hopefully we see a solution in the near future because it would be a gigantic breakthrough for one of the biggest diseases of the last decades



    • Hey Matthias, I see you made a little research regarding the topic aswell, Great! I think your comment gives indeed the answer to why this hasn’t broken through yet. However after watching the video again and reading your link, I think the reason that they don’t use this technique allready isn’t they can’t implement it but rather they have problems removing or erasing the molecules as its meant to be used for “a one-time use only” .I know she gives a bit of a vague explanation but I think that seems to be the issue they seem to be struggling the most with, especially since most medicine industry is focused on multiple-use drugs. I could be wrong ofcourse, I just wonder after 4 years where they stand on this topic.


      • Hi

        Does “we’ve discovered that there’s actually no straightforward mechanism to develop a molecule for one-time use.” don’t mean there is still some problem to produce the right kind of molecule. I do not get why you can conclude from this sentence that they can not bring it in the human body. And if they can all ready put the molecule into a mouse, how difficult can it be to put is in the human body? I really do not know but I would think the problem is more the kind of the molecule. But I do not know what they mean with a one-time molecule. Do they mean that they have trouble to remove the molecule after the surgery and they do not need it any more?


  2. Hi,
    It looks like a great technology. And if surgery where they have to remove cancer cells by the way the woman tells, the fluorescence based surgery would be a great progress. Too bad they can not use it yet, but maybe they can use it already on dead people when students are learning about the body? Or does this type of surgery do not work on dead tissue?


  3. I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t work on recently deceased people, however, because the technique is still being developed and the product is still in its experimental phase, it might be a bit too expensive and foremost not their priority to try and optimize it for students and experiment on deceased patients. I think they are rather working to optimize the technique on larger scale for general use and they are trying to optimize the application/removal process of the fluorescencemarkes to the tissues of the body before launching it on a global scale. The sentence: “we’ve discovered that there’s actually no straightforward mechanism to develop a molecule for one-time use.” means in my opinion they have a problem with finding an optimal way to remove this technique after use, and that’s what they are strugging with.


Laat een reactie achter op driesverh Reactie annuleren

Vul je gegevens in of klik op een icoon om in te loggen. logo

Je reageert onder je account. Log uit /  Bijwerken )

Google photo

Je reageert onder je Google account. Log uit /  Bijwerken )


Je reageert onder je Twitter account. Log uit /  Bijwerken )

Facebook foto

Je reageert onder je Facebook account. Log uit /  Bijwerken )

Verbinden met %s