The overarching goal of this project is to enhance the functionality on the widely-used commercial da Vinci Surgical platform by integrating an optical diagnostic port in their robotic surgical instruments. The fluorescence lifetime technique will provide real-time (few seconds) feedback on biochemical and functional tissue features during robotic surgical procedures without the administration of exogenous fluorescence contrast.
The derived fluorescence parameters will provide surgeons with a rapid clinical assessment of local pathologies, identification of tumor margins and other relevant tissues, and guidance of biopsy during robotic-assisted surgery. This technology has the potential to improve the surgeon’s ability to perform a complete surgical resection with low recurrence rates while preserving normal tissue and function. The current application focuses on robotic surgery of head and neck cancer. However, the technological developments and experimental methods developed in this application will serve as a paradigm for other applications of the da Vinci Surgical System including surgical therapy of urologic, colorectal, gynecologic, and thoracic cancers. Ultimately, the this technology has the potential to improve the survival rate and the quality of life for many cancer patients.