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Biomedical Optics & Medical Imaging

Glowing gland can reduce endocrine surgery risk

Vanderbilt University
20 June 2011

The parathyroid glands - four small organs the size of grains of rice located at the back of the throat - glow with a natural fluorescence in the near infrared region of the spectrum.

This unique fluorescent signature was discovered by a team of biomedical engineers and endocrine surgeons at Vanderbilt University, who have used it as the basis of a simple and reliable optical detector that can positively identify the parathyroid glands during endocrine surgery.

The report of the discovery of parathyroid fluorescence and the design of the optical detector was published in the June issue of the Journal of Biomedical Optics.

Read the Vanderbilt University press release.