An Invention that Can Prolong Life

Removing a maximum amount of diseased tissue and – at the same time – not harming healthy tissue – fluorescence technology can help neurosurgeons walk this fine line during surgery on a brain tumor.

Prof. Dr. med. Walter Stummer

Less than two percent of all cancer cases in humans are brain tumors1. A rare, but greatly feared disease – after all, the diagnosis often means that the patient only has a few years or even months to live. The tumor constantly increases the pressure within the brain until it becomes life-threatening.
The treatment possibilities are still limited, but surgery improves the patient's quality of life and can prolong his or her life. Unfortunately, there is often no cure for the condition.
"Radical resection in these malignant gliomas is really, really important," explains Prof. Dr. med. Walter Stummer, Director of the Neurosurgery Clinic of the University Hospital in Münster, Germany. However, it is often not possible to remove the cancerous cells in their entirety, as malignant tumors, e.g. glioblastomas, can infiltrate healthy tissue. Since improving the patients’ quality of life in the remaining months and years is paramount, harm to functional areas should be avoided.
The fluorescence technology can help surgeons to master this balancing act during tumor resection as effectively as possible: it enables the visualization of tumor tissue during the surgery, and hence supports the neurosurgeon in differentiating between diseased and healthy tissue.
Prof. Dr. Stummer was one of the driving forces when fluorescence technology was invented for tumor resection. He, in collaboration with ZEISS, developed the clinical application between 1998 and 2007, which has been available as ZEISS BLUE 400* in surgical microscopes and more recently also in the ZEISS KINEVO 900 – (an all-new) Robotic Visualization System, for more than ten years. Prof. Dr. Stummer and his team at the University Hospital in Münster use the technology on a regular basis like many other doctors all over the world.
The BLUE 400 Fluorescence Module from ZEISS was the only system to successfully verify its efficiency within the framework of a multicenter Phase III study2.

1World Health Organization (WHO): World Cancer Report 2014, p. 511.

2Stummer W, Pichlmeier U, Meinel T et al.: Fluorescence-guided surgery with 5-aminolevulinic acid for resection of malignant glioma : a randomised controlled multicentre phase III trail. Lancet Oncol 7: 392-401, 2006 (

*Not available in all markets. Please use the fluorescent agents as per the approval status in your country.