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September 3, 2015

Laser Lines

Lasers at cutting edge of brain surgery

You may have seen the story that ran on the BBC recently about PhD student Reuben Hill who had a brain tumour and happened to work with the same laser technology used in the operation to remove it.

For the first time in Europe, laser technology has been used during surgery to confirm healthy or damaged tissue. The laser technology meant that there was no need for a biopsy, saving critical time while the patient was on the operating table.

During the operation at Charing Cross Hospital, surgeons used a near-infrared laser probe to point the beam at Reuben’s exposed brain, causing molecules in the cells to vibrate. Fibre optics in the probe collected the scattered light that bounced off the tissue and these were analysed using Raman spectroscopy, which measures the frequency of vibrations. Healthy and abnormal tissue have slightly different signatures, so the surgeons know whether to cut or leave the tissue.

What’s even more amazing is that Reuben was awake for part of the operation and sang once he was woken up so that the surgeons could ensure they weren’t removing tissue that would affect his speech.

Dan Cort from Laser Lines’ photonics department said: “This is a fantastic story, not just because Reuben is OK, but because it showcases just how groundbreaking the UK laser industry is.”

“We work with many universities and students and quite often their work is behind closed doors in research departments. So it’s really great to see how Raman spectroscopy, one of our most popular and fastest growing laser applications, is integral to this groundbreaking surgery.”

“The fact that Reuben was happy for the cameras to be in filming while his operation was taking place has hopefully highlighted just how exciting and innovative laser technology is.”

To find out more about our Photonics products, contact the Laser Lines team on 01295 672 588 or

Category: Photonics
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