The gamma probe is now a well-established instrument, used mainly to identify and map sentinel lymph nodes and some types of lesion. This ever more popular instrument requires some dexterity on the part of the surgeon using it.
Prospects for the development of this technology include both improved performance and integration with other technologies used in nuclear medicine.
1. Optimised sentinel node identification
Identifying the sentinel node and reducing the number of false negatives is a key objective in the surgical treatment of various types of cancer. Greater accuracy and greater sensitivity mean a lower margin of error.
The challenge seized by Imagensys was to develop a directional probe that was the most accurate instrument available in the operating theatre today. A directional gamma probe with a “wider, more accurate view”. An instrument with a sensor spatial resolution of less than 8 mm.
2. Reduction in operating times
The time needed by the surgeon to locate the positive sentinel node through the use of the gamma probe is an important factor. Reducing that time means reducing the operating time.
Imagensys decided to develop a gamma probe capable of inspecting a larger tissue section than is possible with the available probes. A larger section means less time needed to find the lymph node. To reach this objective, the solution was to add two detectors to the main detector, thus obtaining a visual field of more than 180°.
3. Greater reliability in surgical practice
The time needed to use the instrument and the ability to identify the sentinel node depend partly on the surgeon’s skill and experience. Greater familiarity with the instrument corresponds to less time taken to identify the lymph node and lesion.
Developing a more user-friendly instrument thus ensures a significant time saving, regardless of the user’s familiarity with the gamma probe.
The decision to develop a three-detector probe with a visual field more than twice that of the instruments normally available in the operating theatre as well as better spatial resolution resulted in the development of a more reliable instrument for operating theatre staff.