Neurosurg Focus. 2022 Dec;53(6):E12. doi: 10.3171/2022.9.FOCUS22429.
OBJECTIVE: Intraoperative neuropathological assessment with conventional frozen sections supports the neurosurgeon in optimizing the surgical strategy. However, preparation and review of frozen sections can take as long as 45 minutes. Stimulated Raman histology (SRH) was introduced as a novel technique to provide rapid high-resolution digital images of unprocessed tissue samples directly in the operating room that are comparable to conventional histopathological images. Additionally, SRH images are simultaneously and easily accessible for neuropathological judgment. Recently, the first study showed promising results regarding the accuracy and feasibility of SRH compared with conventional histopathology. Thus, the aim of this study was to compare SRH with conventional H&E images and frozen sections in a large cohort of patients with different suspected central nervous system (CNS) tumors.
METHODS: The authors included patients who underwent resection or stereotactic biopsy of suspected CNS neoplasm, including brain and spinal tumors. Intraoperatively, tissue samples were safely collected and SRH analysis was performed directly in the operating room. To enable optimal comparison of SRH with H&E images and frozen sections, the authors created a digital databank that included images obtained with all 3 imaging modalities. Subsequently, 2 neuropathologists investigated the diagnostic accuracy, tumor cellularity, and presence of diagnostic histopathological characteristics (score 0 [not present] through 3 [excellent]) determined with SRH images and compared these data to those of H&E images and frozen sections, if available.
RESULTS: In total, 94 patients with various suspected CNS tumors were included, and the application of SRH directly in the operating room was feasible in all cases. The diagnostic accuracy based on SRH images was 99% when compared with the final histopathological diagnosis based on H&E images. Additionally, the same histopathological diagnosis was established in all SRH images (100%) when compared with that of the corresponding frozen sections. Moreover, the authors found a statistically significant correlation in tumor cellularity between SRH images and corresponding H&E images (p < 0.0005 and R = 0.867, Pearson correlation coefficient). Finally, excellent (score 3) or good (2) accordance between diagnostic histopathological characteristics and H&E images was present in 95% of cases.
CONCLUSIONS: The results of this retrospective analysis demonstrate the near-perfect diagnostic accuracy and capability of visualizing relevant histopathological characteristics with SRH compared with conventional H&E staining and frozen sections. Therefore, digital SRH histopathology seems especially useful for rapid intraoperative investigation to confirm the presence of diagnostic tumor tissue and the precise tumor entity, as well as to rapidly analyze multiple tissue biopsies from the suspected tumor margin. A real-time analysis comparing SRH images and conventional histological images at the time of surgery should be performed as the next step in future studies.