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Todd Hollon, Spencer Lewis, Christian W. Freudiger, X. Sunney Xie and Daniel A. Orringer

Despite advances in the surgical management of brain tumors, achieving optimal surgical results and identification of tumor remains a challenge. Raman spectroscopy, a laser-based technique that can be used to nondestructively differentiate molecules based on the inelastic scattering of light, is being applied toward improving the accuracy of brain tumor surgery. Here, the authors systematically review the application of Raman spectroscopy for guidance during brain tumor surgery. Raman spectroscopy can differentiate normal brain from necrotic and vital glioma tissue in human specimens based on chemical differences, and has recently been shown to differentiate tumor-infiltrated tissues from noninfiltrated tissues during surgery. Raman spectroscopy also forms the basis for coherent Raman scattering (CRS) microscopy, a technique that amplifies spontaneous Raman signals by 10,000-fold, enabling real-time histological imaging without the need for tissue processing, sectioning, or staining. The authors review the relevant basic and translational studies on CRS microscopy as a means of providing real-time intraoperative guidance. Recent studies have demonstrated how CRS can be used to differentiate tumor-infiltrated tissues from noninfiltrated tissues and that it has excellent agreement with traditional histology. Under simulated operative conditions, CRS has been shown to identify tumor margins that would be undetectable using standard bright-field microscopy. In addition, CRS microscopy has been shown to detect tumor in human surgical specimens with near-perfect agreement to standard H & E microscopy. The authors suggest that as the intraoperative application and instrumentation for Raman spectroscopy and imaging matures, it will become an essential component in the neurosurgical armamentarium for identifying residual tumor and improving the surgical management of brain tumors.