In what promises to be one the most exciting new tools in the battle against cancer, surgeons now have an entirely option to diagnose this deadly disease and it fits right in the palm of their hand.
A brand new experimental surgical knife can help surgeons ensure that they have, in fact, removed cancerous tissue. As surgeons use their knives to cut, it typically heats up the tissue to allow the cutting process to be easier. This produces a type of smoke with a very distinct, sharp smell.
The knife can analyze the smoke itself and can sense whether the tissue being cut is cancerous tissue or healthy tissue.
The invention is the creation of Dr Zoltan Takats who is based at the Imperial College London. He initially had a feeling that the smoke produced during cancer surgery would be able to yield important clues during the process itself.
While the surgical knife is of typical size, it connects to a mass spectrometry device that is the size of a refrigerator. The wheeled device is able to analyze the smoke from cauterizing tissue without it having to be sent to a lab. This will yield instant results and it will not only have the potential to shorten surgeries themselves but also save a significant amount of funds because the surgery won’t have to be reattempted if surgeons didn’t make the right cut in the right area.
The mass spectrometry device is able to analyze the smoke “signatures” from various types of tissue and then display it on a monitor. A “green” reading indicates that the tissue is healthy. A “red” reading shows that the tissue is cancerous and the “yellow” reading indicates tissue that is unidentifiable.
Not only will this process significantly lower the chances of repeat surgery being needed, it also has the potential to save patients from the chemotherapy or radiation processes.
The knife and the machine combined are available at a price point of $380,000 even though the product has not been effectively commercialized. The overall cost is expected to go down once more hospitals and surgery centers begin placing orders.
With the most common method of removing tumors being surgery, this new development represents a potential “ace up the sleeve” of cancer surgeons everywhere. The knife was tested over a two-year period and involved samples taken from 302 patients who represented a wide range of different cancers such as brain cancer, colon cancer, breast, liver and lung cancer were also included in the data set.
The surgical knife was used to analyze the tumors in 91 of the patients and the smart knife was able to spot cancer in 91 of 91 instances.
The results themselves were published in the respected journal Science Translational Medicine. Both the Imperial College London and the Hungarian government were able to contribute funds to the development of this product and support to the researchers working on the project. And mayhap a major chunk of the work relating to the research is encompassed by administering the various sectors of the research. If you’re a research team looking for someone to expedite your proceedings and are running short on time, then you could learn more about PharmaSeek.
The product was first made available to the public in a demonstration in London, England in mid-July when the doctors involved in the research demonstrated the knife by slicing into slabs of pig’s liver. The distinctive smell of burning flesh quickly filled the room and researchers were able to demonstrate how the device works by slicing into different test slabs.
The product is still yet to be submitted for formal regulatory approval but there are still a number of studies being planned to both perfect the device and possibly even find new uses. The area where many medical experts believe the device will be most effective is when conducting brain surgery as various types of brain cancers are well-known for being able to infiltrate brain tissue in areas that aren’t visible to the surgeon.
Obviously, brain surgery is an extremely intricate process with little margin for error and anything that eliminates guess-work on the part of the surgeons is going to make the process easier and more effective.
Knowing that cancerous tissue has been removed before the patient is stitched up has the potential to save lives and save money for our healthcare system.
Further studies will be focused on the demonstrated effectiveness of the device for patients themselves in regards to cutting down on surgery times as well as blood loss and post-surgery infection rates. Many observers have described the product as a fascinating opportunity to save lives, save money and make cancer even easier to detect and destroy.
To your health!