Washington University in St. Louis doctors create cancer-seeing goggles

WARNING: Viewer discretion advised. The video contains material that some may find graphic.

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KSDK/CNN) – Doctors at Washington University in St. Louis have a new tool to fight cancer.

They may look like something out of a sci-fi movie, but these glasses have the potential to help save lives.

“It really has the ability to revolutionize the way that we take care of cancer patients,” Dr. Ryan Fields said.

The glasses help surgeons like Dr. Ryan Fields with the Siteman Cancer Center see more precisely what they are working on, by recognizing a dye that’s injected into a person’s vein.

The video in this post is from a recent lymph node removal surgery at Siteman.

You can see the incision area before the surgeon puts the glasses on.

Then while wearing the glasses the doctor sees a blue glowing image. That’s the lymph node they are going after.

“The area that lights up kind of like a what you would see on a radar… that’s the most intense spot that dye was picked up,” Dr. Fields said.

But the glasses are only one part of the technology being developed.

Washington University professor Dr. Sam Achilefu is creating a new dye that would be injected through the vein and detect cancer cells anywhere in the body.

“You can kind of see the edge of the cancer by wearing the goggles and administering this contrast agent that he’s developing,” Dr. Fields said.

Looking through the glasses a surgeon could see exactly where the cancer cells end and where the healthy tissue begins.

Decreasing the chances of a patient having to revisit the operating room for a secondary surgery.

“The real hope is that whatever we do impacts the patient in a very positive way,” Dr. Fields said.

The glasses have only been used of 10 patients, those with breast cancer or melanoma.

But, doctors hope some day this technology can be used on all cancer patients.

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