Image guided surgery


At LUMC a highly multidisciplinary team of scientists with backgrounds in medicine, biology, chemistry (incl. nanotechnology), engineering and physics pursue the development of imaging technologies for surgical guidance and to translate these safely to the clinical practice. The focus is to help surgeons perform safer and less invasive procedures with a singular goal to improve outcomes.

Benefit for patients

By improving individual aspects of surgery, the LUMC aims to increase the balance between surgical outcome and surgical side effects. By improving intraoperative tumour detection and by providing a better delineation of the disease, the number of radical resections can be increased.  Image guided surgery techniques can also make the surgical procedures safer by minimizing damage to healthy tissue. Patient benefits related to technologies that help minimise the surgically induced side-effects may be found in factors such as: preservation of function, reduced surgical morbidity, and more rapid reintegration into society.

Benefit for imaging-agent, soft- and hard- ware developers

In addition to driving independent academic research projects, the LUMC offers a unique combination of extensive expertise and research infrastructure to external private and public partners who are pursuing the development of imaging technologies for image guided surgery applications. At any point in the development trajectory we can offer our expertise for a fast, high quality translation. This support spans from technology/intellectual property development (e.g. chemistry, modalities, augmented- virtual-reality concepts) to preclinical  and clinical technology evaluation.

Benefit for surgeons

The value of image guidance technologies is increasing with the continuous move towards minimally invasive surgical procedures, in which the surgeon operates through small incisions using a laparoscope and specialised instruments. Here the surgeon cannot rely on touch to distinguish between the tumour and healthy tissue. Using a tissue specific imaging agent, possibly coupled with a tailored navigation approach, can help the surgeon to operate with more confidence around delicate structures. 

Two internationally acknowledged LUMC research groups have as main focus image guided surgery

The Interventional Molecular Imaging laboratory (Radiology) is focusing (together with its industrial and academic partners) on the development, translation and implementation of molecular imaging technologies that support image guided interventions. These efforts are coupled to educational and training activities.

The group of Dr. Alex Vahrmeijer (Surgery) is focussing on precision surgery to improve the treatment of cancer patients. In a unique collaboration involving LUMC, CHDR and national and international partners current research focuses on the introduction of real-time  tumour detection and normal structure delineation using both clinically available probes and novel tumour specific probes.

The impact of the work performed these groups is not only reflected by a high number of scientific publications, and key positions in the organization structure of relevant academic societies and the European Association of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, but also in the abundance in competitive personal scholarships obtained on the topic of image guided surgery e.g. VENI-, VIDI-, and VICI- grants awarded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, multiple ERC-grants and multiple personal KWF scholarships, regular KWF Grants and NIH funding. 

Dr. Fijs van Leeuwen


Dr. Alex Vahrmeijer