Delivery of radiofrequency (RF) electrical energy is used during surgery to heat and seal tissue, such as vessels, allowing resection without blood loss. Recent work has suggested that this approach may be extended to allow surgical attachment of larger tissue segments for applications such as bowel anastomosis.
In a large series of porcine surgical procedures bipolar RF energy was used to resect and re-seal the small bowel in vivo with a commercial tissue fusion device (Ligasure; Covidien PLC, USA). The tissue was then imaged with a multispectral imaging laparoscope to obtain a spectral datacube comprising both fused and healthy tissue. Maps of blood volume, oxygen saturation and scattering power were derived from the measured reflectance spectra using an optimised light-tissue interaction model.
A 60% increase in reflectance of visible light (460–700 nm) was observed after fusion, with the tissue taking on a white appearance. Despite this the distinctive shape of the haemoglobin absorption spectrum was still noticeable in the 460–600 nm wavelength range. Scattering power increased in the fused region in comparison to normal serosa, while blood volume and oxygen saturation decreased.
Observed fusion-induced changes in the reflectance spectrum are consistent with the biophysical changes induced through tissue denaturation and increased collagen cross-linking. The multispectral imager allows mapping of the spatial extent of these changes and classification of the zone of damaged tissue. Further analysis of the spectral data in parallel with histopathological examination of excised specimens will allow correlation of the optical property changes with microscopic alterations in tissue structure.
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