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New surgical knife can instantly detect cancer

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posted on Jul, 18 2013 @ 03:53 AM
An experimental surgical knife can help surgeons make sure they've removed all the cancerous tissue, doctors reported Wednesday. Surgeons typically use knives that heat tissue as they cut, producing a sharp-smelling smoke.

The new knife, known as the iKnife, analyzes the smoke and can instantly signal whether the tissue is cancerous or healthy in seconds and may help improve tumor removal in the operating room.
The iKnife uses mass spectrometry to examine the surgical smoke given off by evaporating tissue, alerting the surgeon in three seconds as to what it contains.

Dr. Zoltan Takats of Imperial College London suspected the smoke produced during cancer surgery might contain some important cancer clues. So he designed a ‘‘smart’’ knife hooked up to a refrigerator-sized mass spectrometry device on wheels that analyzes the smoke from cauterizing tissue.

The smoke picked up by the smart knife is compared to a library of smoke ‘‘signatures’’ from cancerous and non-cancerous tissues. Information appears on a monitor: green means the tissue is healthy, red means cancerous and yellow means unidentifiable.

Scientists tested the new knife at three hospitals between 2010 and 2012. Tissue samples were taken from 302 patients to create a database of which kinds of smoke contained cancers, including those of the brain, breast, colon, liver, lung and stomach.

That was then used to analyze tumors from 91 patients; the smart knife correctly spotted cancer in every case. The study was published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The new knife, which looks like a fat white pen, and its accompanying machines were made for about $380,000 but scientists said the price tag would likely drop if the technology is commercialized, which they speculate may be another year or so.

This is wonderful news if it's as reliable as they claim it is.

Naturally more research will be needed to substantiate their claims.
And of course, drop the price down where more doctors/hospitals can afford it.

edit on 18-7-2013 by snarky412 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 18 2013 @ 04:14 AM
reply to post by snarky412

Now this is a snazzy bit of applied science. I love the elegance of the idea, the thought behind it. Gives me hope for the future of medicine and the species as a whole, that people on the frontlines against deadly diseases like cancer, are coming up with things like this. I imagine that modification or expansion of the database of smoke types, would allow this tool to be used on flesh infected with various bacterial infections as well, so the idea is expandable as well.

Exciting times to be sure.

posted on Jul, 18 2013 @ 05:43 AM
reply to post by TrueBrit

Indeed an elegant idea! And so simple, I would call it genius. Imagine how many other solutions are out there for all kinds of problems that are just waiting to be 'thought of'. As another example, I remember reading that the guy who discovered the triple-helix DNA structure had that intuition while driving down a curvy road in the hills of California. All the answers are out there, and with an open and questioning mind, they can all be envisioned. I also find this promising for the future.

posted on Jul, 18 2013 @ 03:57 PM
reply to post by snarky412
This has the potential to be a life saver! All it takes is missing a miniscule amount of cancerous cells during surgery and the cancer can and often does recur. If they can accurately remove all cancerous cells in one operation it could possibly save people from having to go through chemotherapy and radiation treatments as those are done mainly to kill any cancerous cells that may have been missed in the removal process. Looking forward to future reports on this technology- it has the potential to be a game changer!

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