Like its namesake, the new Firefly technology, which creates better visualization of the anatomy for surgeons while they are operating, is known for its firefly-green color that illuminates the difference between cancerous and healthy tissue, and the blood supply to a tumor, allowing for more accurate removal and less risk of any cancer being left behind.

Green dye is administered by an anesthesiologist through a peripheral IV line. The dye binds to plasma proteins in the blood and under a fluoroscopic camera is firefly green, showing clear contrasts between cancerous and healthy tissue, and blood supply to the tumor. The near-infrared technology also provides the surgeon real-time, image-guided identification of key anatomical landmarks.

Used in conjunction with Alaska Regional's minimally-invasive da Vinci Si Surgical System, the Firefly technology allows surgeons to quickly switch back and forth between the different Firefly imaging and normal white light, to the operating instruments, without stepping away from the surgical console, because they are part of the same system.

Since purchasing the first and only Firefly in Anchorage, surgeons at Alaska Regional have used the minimally invasive technology mainly for urological procedures, such as removing kidney tumors and partial removal of the kidney. Sparing kidney tissue is important because studies show that patients who have their entire kidney removed are more likely to suffer from chronic kidney disease after surgery and need dialysis, compared to patients who received a kidney-sparing partial nephrectomy.

“It gives us vital, real time information, allowing us to more accurately operate so we can take out the bad part of the kidney and save everything else,” Dr. Robert Allen, Alaska Institute of Surgical and Medical Specialties says, adding that Firefly has revolutionized urological surgery. “It has been essential.”

At the same time, for the patient it results in a shorter operation, better outcomes, a higher chance of preserving the kidney, lower rates of complications, and shorter hospital stays. “They get their life back a lot quicker,” Allen says.

In addition to enabling surgeons to view blood flow through vessels and tissue, when used with normal white light, Firefly also allows for real-time imaging of bile ducts (cystic duct, common bile duct and common hepatic duct). The technology will also be used in general, colon, OBGYN and bariatric surgeries.

For more information about da Vinci® robotic surgery, visit our Robotic Surgery section, or call our free Physician Referral Service at 264-1722 or 888-254-7884 to find a surgeon who performs minimally invasive robotic surgery at Alaska Regional Hospital.