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Honoured for invention in neurosurgical ultrasound

Price winners with Alexandra Bech Gjørv
SINTEF’s CEO Alexandra Bech Gjørv congratulates Geirmund Unsgård (left) and Tormod Selbekk on their outstanding research award. Photo: Thor Nielsen/SINTEF
SINTEF’s prize for outstanding research in 2016 has been jointly awarded to ultrasound researcher Tormod Selbekk at SINTEF and neurosurgeon Geirmund Unsgård at St. Olav's Hospital/NTNU.

The pair have been awarded the prize for research results that will most likely enable more tumour tissue to be removed from patients during brain operations.

Selbekk is a Research Manager at SINTEF, while Unsgård is a professor in neurosurgery at NTNU and Head of Clinic at the Department of Neurosurgery at St. Olav's Hospital in Trondheim.

The prize has been awarded for research enabling enhancements in ultrasound images during brain surgery.

The fluid is the key

When a tumour has to be removed, ultrasound is used both to locate it and to see how much of it remains during the operation.

In order to generate ultrasound images of the brain, a good connection is required between the ultrasound instrument and the brain tissue. As the surgeon removes the tumour, a space develops that must be filled with a fluid that maintains the acoustic coupling between the ultrasound instrument and the tissue, and which makes it possible to generate the image.

Research carried out by the prizewinners has resulted in a fluid that reduces noise generated in the images to much lower levels than we experience using current saline solutions.

The innovation will most probably mean that surgeons will be able to identify and remove more tumour tissue than is possible today. The fluid will now be assessed as part of future clinical studies.

New spin-off handles commercialisation

This research work has sparked great interest internationally and has resulted in the launch of a spin-off company called BrainImage AS.

The prize, worth NOK 150,000, will be shared between the two winners.