May 27, 2024

Revolutionary Flexible Microdisplay: Real-time Brain Activity Monitoring during Surgery with Unprecedented Precision

A groundbreaking development by researchers from the University of California San Diego and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has resulted in a flexible microdisplay that can monitor brain activity in real-time during surgery. This innovative device, which combines an electrode grid and LEDs, offers significant improvements over current methods.

Neurosurgeons are now able to visualize the brain’s activity during surgical interventions to remove brain lesions such as tumors and epileptic tissue. Each LED in the device corresponds to the activity of a few thousand neurons. In experiments with rodents and large non-primate mammals, researchers demonstrated the device’s ability to effectively track and display neural activity in the brain, correlating to different body areas.

The LEDs light up in red for areas that require removal, while surrounding areas controlling critical functions and should be avoided display in green. The device can also visualize the onset and map the propagation of an epileptic seizure on the brain’s surface. This capability would enable physicians to isolate the nodes involved in epilepsy and deliver necessary treatment by removing tissue or using electrical pulses to stimulate the brain.

Neurosurgeons could now identify and stop seizures before they spread, visualize brain areas involved in various cognitive processes, and determine the functional extent of tumor spread. Daniel Cleary, a neurosurgeon and assistant professor at Oregon Health and Science University, stated, “This work will provide a powerful tool for the challenging task of removing a tumor from the most sensitive brain areas.”

The device was conceived and developed by a team of engineers and physicians, led by Shadi Dayeh, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC San Diego. During brain surgery, physicians need to map brain function to define which areas control critical functions and cannot be removed. Currently, neurosurgeons work with a team of electrophysiologists, but their monitoring equipment is located in a different part of the operating room.

Communication between the teams is inefficient, and could impact surgical outcomes. The new device simplifies and reduces the time of brain mapping procedures by displaying critical cortical boundaries with precision. The device’s LEDs are installed on top of the platinum nanorod electrode grid (PtNRGrid), another innovation from the Dayeh lab. The PtNRGrid, which includes perforations for inserting probes to stimulate the brain with electrical signals, has been in use since 2019.

The team reported early safety and effectiveness results in human subjects in a series of articles in Science Translational Medicine in 2022. This innovation provides a cost-effective, fine-grained solution for brain mapping procedures, surpassing the capabilities of other companies in this field.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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