'Smart' knife can sniff out cancer
Cancer surgery can be a challenge for doctors. For instance, to make sure that they’ve removed all of the cancerous tumor, they sometimes also cut out healthy tissue. However, a new technique known as the iKnife, developed by researchers at Imperial College London, sniffs out the "smoke" created during removal of tissue and immediately informs the surgeon if it is healthy or diseased.
During electrosurgery procedures, the surgeon's knife delivers an electric current that heats the tissue and cuts through it, reducing blood loss. The heat vaporizes the tissue, giving off smoke that is usually sucked away during the surgery. But the iKnife has sensors that can identify chemicals in the cancer, which can help improve the precision of the surgery. In tissue samples from 91 people, researchers using the iKnife achieved 100 percent accuracy in diagnosing if the tissues were cancerous or not.
The iKnife has shown promise for speeding up the surgical process, eliminating the need for lab analysis of tissue during surgery and reducing the need for follow-up surgeries. Though the tool is recommended only for certain types of cancer, it is still seen as a more precise and cost-effective option for surgeons.