Use of an intracranial near-infrared probe for localization during stereotactic surgery for movement disorders: Technical note

C. A. Giller, M. Johns, H. Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Localization of targets during stereotactic surgery is frequently accomplished by identification of the boundaries between the gray matter of various nuclei and the surrounding white matter. The authors describe an intracranial probe developed for this purpose, which uses near-infrared (NIR) light. The probe fits through standard stereotactic holders and emits light at its tip. The scattered light is detected and analyzed by a spectrometer, with the slope of the trailing portion of the reflectance curve used as the measurement value. Near-infrared readings were obtained during 27 neurosurgical procedures. The first three operations were temporal lobectomies, with values obtained from tracks in the resected specimen and resection bed. In the next five procedures, the probe was inserted stereotactically to a depth of 1 to 2 cm with measurements obtained every 1 mm. The probe was then used in 19 stereotactic procedures for movement disorders, obtaining measurements every 0.5 to 1 mm to target depths of 6 to 8 cm to interrogate subcortical structures. The NIR signals were correlated to distances beneath the cortical surface measured on postoperative computerized tomography or magnetic resonance imaging by using angle correction and three-dimensional reconstruction techniques. The NIR values for white and gray matter obtained during the lobectomies were significantly different (white matter 2.5 ± 0.37, gray matter 0.82 ± 0.23 mean ± standard deviation). The NIR values from the superficial stereotactic tracks showed initial low values corresponding to cortical gray matter and high values corresponding to subcortical white matter. There was good correlation between the NIR signals and postoperative imaging in the 19 stereotactic cases. Dips due to adjacent sulci, a plateau of high signal due to subcortical white matter, a dip in the NIR signal during passage through the ventricle, dips due to the caudate nucleus, and peaks due to the white matter capsule between ventricle and thalamus were constant features. The putamen-capsule boundary and the lamina externa and interna of the globus pallidus could be distinguished in three cases. Elevated signals corresponding to the thalamic floor were seen in 10 cases. Nuances such as prior lesions and nonspecific white matter changes were also detected. There was no incidence of morbidity associated with use of the probe. Data acquisition was straightforward and the equipment required for the studies was inexpensive. The NIR probe described in this article seems to be able to detect gray-white matter boundaries around and within subcortical structures commonly encountered in stereotactic functional neurosurgery. This simple, inexpensive method deserves further study to establish its efficacy for stereotactic localization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)498-505
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000


  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Movement disorders
  • Near-infrared light
  • Pallidotomy
  • Stereotactic neurosurgery
  • Thalamotomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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