Fluorescent dye may be invisible under normal light, but it frequently provides illuminating results in many hospitals around the world. Fluorescence technology was first used for medical purposes in 1959 to assess liver function and, not long afterwards, in cardiology. Ten years later, in 1969, it was applied for the first time in ophthalmology to examine the choroid of the eye. Since then, fluorescence imaging has become state-of-the-art in both ophthalmology and vascular surgery. Today, more and more physicians and researchers are discovering the benefits of fluorescence technologies in other areas such as neurosurgery, where it offers the ability to light up blood vessels and tissue.
For neurosurgeons, quick actions often must be decisive: a patient who has suffered a stroke needs the highest performance under significant time pressure. Fluorescence technology, which can be integrated into a surgical microscope, can help to simplify these surgical procedures – since the surgeon is already using the microscope he does not need to operate any additional devices. During surgery, the patient gets injected with a special dye that passes through their bloodstream to the blood vessels at the surgical site. There, the surgical visualization system lights up the dye. This fluorescent light is invisible to the human eye, so the microscope makes it visible: lighting up the vessels and displaying them in real time on the monitor as a bright white image similar to an x-ray. This method supports surgeons to detect blood flow anomalies that occur during surgery.
Fluorescence works according to a similar principle in tumor surgery, where surgeons are faced with the task of removing diseased tissue from the brain. In this case, fluorescent dye – which the patient drinks prior to surgery – can help surgeons to visualize tumor tissue. Under a bluish light, the healthy tissue appears equally bluish, while the tumor area and the margins of the tumor, which play a critical role in successful treatment, appear in a reddish hue.
ZEISS has released a new surgical microscope for dentistry that aims to facilitate the fluorescence-based identification of carious tooth substances as an aid for dentists by showing the transition from natural to artificial tooth structure. And it’s not just the world of medicine that is benefiting from the visualization capabilities of the fluorescence technology – for research purposes numerous laboratories and institutes also count on ZEISS solutions.
Fluorescence has played an important role not only in medicine, but also in microscopy and research since the first half of the 20th century.
Today, fluorescence microscopes are used for routine applications and research in biomedicine. Scientists and institutes put their trust in fluorescence microscopy for cell and evolutionary biology and neurobiology in particular. For routine applications, fluorescence is especially helpful when examining cell structures and in histological studies and pathology, where the specific staining of particular structures is needed.
Prof. Dr. Markus Hoth, Biophysics/CIPMM Faculty of Medicine,
We have been using ZEISS Lightsheet Z.1 since end of last year.
We are very impressed that we can measure the immune-mediated death of cancer cells over long periods of time with low phototoxicity and photobleaching and high spatio-temporal resolution in a three-dimensional matrix. We have received excellent service and support from ZEISS.
Cytological studies, especially those focused on the mechanisms for cell division and inheritance, play a key role in cancer research. Numerous structures, ranging from the protein molecules to entire organs, can be specifically labeled with fluorescent dyes in order to study cellular dynamics. Observing living cells or organisms gives researchers additional insights into the dynamics of and interactions between proteins, organelles and cells. Fluorescence solutions from ZEISS enable live cell microscopy at high spatial and temporal resolution.
Neurobiology also benefits from fluorescence when studying the brain structure by imaging large, fixed samples at high resolution. Studies on function in neurobiology are indispensable, because here several strands come together in the battle against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Both cancer and Alzheimer’s research have an important social component in light of the aging population. Today, numerous universities, scientific institutes and research labs study diseases using their fluorescence microscopes like ZEISS Lightsheet Z.1. The unique Multiview light sheet fluorescence microscope allows them to record the development of large, living samples and gently image them to deliver exceptionally high information content.