On-line flow cytometry for real-time surgical guidance

Ali H. Mesiwala, Louis D. Scampavia, Peter S. Rabinovitch, Jaromir Ruzicka, Robert C. Rostomily

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: This study tests the feasibility of using on-line analysis of tissue during surgical resection of brain tumors to provide biologically relevant information in a clinically relevant time frame to augment surgical decision making. For the purposes of establishing feasibility, we used measurement of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) content as the end point for analysis. METHODS: We investigated the feasibility of interfacing an ultrasonic aspiration (USA) system with a flow cytometer (FC) capable of analyzing DNA content (DNA-FC). The sampling system design, tissue preparation requirements, and time requirements for each step of the on-line analysis system were determined using fresh beef brain tissue samples. We also compared DNA-FC measurements in 28 nonneoplastic human brain samples with DNA-FC measurements in specimens of 11 glioma patients obtained from central tumor regions and surgical margins after macroscopically gross total tumor removal to estimate the potential for analysis of a biological marker to influence surgical decision making. RESULTS: With minimal modification, modern FC systems are fully capable of real-time, intraoperative analysis of USA specimens. The total time required for on-line analysis of USA specimens varies between 36 and 63 seconds; this time includes delivery from the tip of the USA to complete analysis of the specimen. Approximately 60% of this time is required for equilibration of the DNA stain. When compared with values for nonneoplastic human brain samples, 50% of samples (10 of 20) from macroscopically normal glioma surgical margins contained DNA-FC abnormalities potentially indicating residual tumor. CONCLUSION: With an interface of existing technologies, DNA content of brain tissue samples can be analyzed in a meaningful time frame that has the potential to provide real-time information for surgical guidance. The identification of DNA content abnormalities in macroscopically normal tumor resection margins by DNA-FC supports the practical potential for on-line analysis of a tumor marker to guide surgical resections. The development of such a device would provide neurosurgeons with an objective method for intraoperative analysis of a clinically relevant biological parameter that can be measured in real time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-559
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • Deoxyribonucleic acid flow cytometry
  • Glioma
  • Real-time analysis
  • Surgical technique

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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