Researchers in England have created a new surgical knife that can actually detect cancer cells as it’s used and this will help surgeons make sure they have removed all parts of a tumor. The knife, which uses heat to cauterize the wound as it cuts, produces smoke and the knife has sensors that analyze the smoke and let the surgeon know if it detects cancer cells. By doing this, a surgeon can be more precise and also be sure that all cancerous tissue has been removed.
One in five breast cancer patients in England have to have follow-up surgery to complete the removal of cancerous tissue so this new tool would appear to be a major plus to cut down on the need for repeated surgeries. The knife was created and then tested between 2010 and 2012 at three different hospitals. It uses a refrigerator size spectrometer attached the knife that analyzes the smoke from the wound and compares it against a library of samples of both cancerous and non-cancerous tissue.
The knife was used to test tumors from 91 patients and correctly identified cancer in all 91. While more testing and research is needed, the approach looks very promising and the surgeons and researchers involved in the trial are very excited by the results thus far.
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