Raman spectroscopy is a biophotonic tool that can be used to differentiate between different tissue types. It is nondestructive and no sample preparation is required. The aim of this study was to evaluate the ability of Raman spectroscopy to differentiate between glioma and normal brain when using fresh biopsy samples and, in the case of glioblastomas, to compare the performance of Raman spectroscopy to predict the presence or absence of tumor with that of 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA)–induced fluorescence.
A principal component analysis (PCA)–fed linear discriminant analysis (LDA) machine learning predictive model was built using Raman spectra, acquired ex vivo, from fresh tissue samples of 62 patients with glioma and 11 glioma-free brain samples from individuals undergoing temporal lobectomy for epilepsy. This model was then used to classify Raman spectra from fresh biopsies from resection cavities after functional guided, supramaximal glioma resection. In cases of glioblastoma, 5-ALA–induced fluorescence at the resection cavity biopsy site was recorded, and this was compared with the Raman spectral model prediction for the presence of tumor.
The PCA-LDA predictive model demonstrated 0.96 sensitivity, 0.99 specificity, and 0.99 accuracy for differentiating tumor from normal brain. Twenty-three resection cavity biopsies were taken from 8 patients after supramaximal resection (6 glioblastomas, 2 oligodendrogliomas). Raman spectroscopy showed 1.00 sensitivity, 1.00 specificity, and 1.00 accuracy for predicting tumor versus normal brain in these samples. In the glioblastoma cases, where 5-ALA–induced fluorescence was used, the performance of Raman spectroscopy was significantly better than the predictive value of 5-ALA–induced fluorescence, which showed 0.07 sensitivity, 1.00 specificity, and 0.24 accuracy (p = 0.0009).
Raman spectroscopy can accurately classify fresh tissue samples into tumor versus normal brain and is superior to 5-ALA–induced fluorescence. Raman spectroscopy could become an important intraoperative tool used in conjunction with 5-ALA–induced fluorescence to guide extent of resection in glioma surgery.