Innovative “Raman – needle” fiber optic probe for tumour delineation in the oral cavity

Here we report the development of a new “Raman-needle” fiber probe, which was designed and manufactured as part of the RaSure project, funded by the EU “Eurostars” program.

About RaSure project:

 Oral cavity cancer is a major public health issue, with annually 300.000 new cases. Surgery is the mainstay of treatment, but adequate tumour removal is not achieved in 85% of the cases. This affects survival and leads to additional treatment of patients by radiotherapy or chemotherapy. The hands and eyes of the surgeon are insufficient for tumour delineation in the oral cavity. Significant improvement is needed to improve the surgical success rate. In frames of RaSure, a fully automated Raman spectroscopic device is under development to achieve complete tumour removal in oral cancer surgeries. The product will consist of a dedicated Raman-based tissue inspection device, the operational system and disposable fiber-optic needle probes.

The consortium, which includes three companies: art photonics GmbH, RiverD International BV and Erasmus MC was tasked to develop a fully automated Raman spectroscopic device to help surgeons achieve complete tumour removal in oral cavity cancer surgeries. The device is inspecting removed tissue to check if the tumour has been removed with a sufficient boundary of healthy tissue during the surgery. If not, the device will inform the surgeon where extra tissue should be removed to achieve complete tumour removal. The role of art photonics GmbH is the development of the unique disposable Raman-needle fiber probe that can be inserted into the tissue multiple times and measure without loss of quality of the results.

The innovative needle probe is satisfied the strict requirements from clinicians: tiny diameter (less than 1 mm), biocompatible materials and robustness. The above-mentioned features allow Raman probe to be inserted into the tissue sample multiple times. The Raman needle probe prototypes were extensively tested together with consortium partners in Erasmus MD and in Charité Clinic in operational theatre. The prototypes on fresh resected human tongue samples are showed reliable performance in recognition of cancer and non-cancer samples. The differentiation between tumour (T) and normal (N) parts of tongue are clearly visible both on Raman spectra and on PCA models. The results are perfectly corresponding to the information received from surgeon.