Auditory Display for Fluorescence-guided Brain Tumor Surgery

Auditory Display for Fluorescence-guided Brain Tumor Surgery. David Black, Horst Hahn, Ron Kikinis, Karin Wårdell, Neda Haj-Hosseini. (2017) In International Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery (accepted September 2017)


Protoporphyrin (PpIX) fluorescence allows discrimination of tumor and normal brain tissue during neurosurgery. A hand-held fluorescence (HHF) probe can be used for spectroscopic measurement of 5-ALA-induced PpIX to enable objective detection compared to visual evaluation of fluorescence. However, current technology requires that the surgeon either views the measured values on a screen or employs an assistant to verbally relay the values. An auditory feedback system was developed and evaluated for communicating measured fluorescence intensity values directly to the surgeon.

The auditory display was programmed to map the values measured by the HHF probe to the playback of tones that represented three fluorescence intensity ranges and one error signal. Ten persons with no previous knowledge of the application took part in a laboratory evaluation. After a brief training period, participants performed measurements on a tray of 96 wells of liquid fluorescence phantom and verbally stated the perceived measurement values for each well. The latency and accuracy of the participants’ verbal responses were recorded, and long-term memorization of sound function was evaluated after 7-12 days.

The participants identified the played tone accurately for 98% of measurements after training. The median response time to verbally identify the played tones was 2 pulses. No correlation was found between the latency and accuracy of the responses and no significant correlation with the musical proficiency of the participants was observed on the function responses.

The employed auditory display was shown to be intuitive, easy to learn and remember, fast to recognize, and accurate in providing users with measurements of fluorescence intensity or error signal. The results of this work establish a basis for implementing and further evaluating auditory displays in clinical scenarios involving fluorescence guidance and other areas for which categorized auditory display could be useful.