Living Healthy: Firefly technology helps with surgeries

New technology is allowing doctors to see below the surface for the first time.

Over the past 10 years, doctors have performed many robot-assisted surgeries.

“The instruments can move just like my hands can move and what that allows us to do is use miniature instruments that can replicate the movement of the human hand,” said Dr. Farjaad Siddiq, a surgeon.

Using the robotic system, doctors and their teams make one or more small incisions where a high-resolution camera is guided, along with delicate surgical instruments.

The surgeon has a 3-D, high-definition view of the operative field with 10 times magnification.

Yet it was still tough to determine cancerous versus healthy tissue.

“There was more risk to make a mistake or leave tumors behind, but with this technology it actually lets us know exactly where the tumor is so that it eliminates the guess work,” said Dr. Siddiq.

Here’s how the new firefly technology works: the dye is injected, providing a detailed image of the blood supply to the tumor.

A second injection highlights the difference between cancerous and normal tissue.

“There’s a button on the robot that I can press that turns on the infrared and that allows me to see the blood flow to the tumor and kidney.”

The surgeon operates, then the dye is injected again to make sure the blood supply is properly connected.

“It basically uses a black light and the image kind of looks like night vision on the screen, which allows us to see blood flow,” said Dr. Siddiq.

The benefit to the patient is that the surgeon can remove tumors with better imaging and there is less blood loss, scarring and post-op pain.

Firefly technology is especially effective during surgery to treat prostate cancer, kidney cancer, and endometriosis.