Intelligent Knife Identifies Cancerous Tissue During Surgery

An “intelligent knife” that lets surgeons know immediately whether the tissue is cancerous or not was 100% accurate in the first study testing the product in the operating room. The tool is known as the “iKnife” and couples electrosurgery with rapid evaporative ionization mass spectrometry. Normally, when surgeons slice through tissue with an electrosurgical knife, heat vaporizes the tissue and the aerosol created has tissue fragements that are sucked away by vacuum systems. With the iKnife, the aerosol is collected and analyzed in real time with mass spectrometry, allowing for the determination of whether tissue if cancer or not (within 3 seconds!). The iKnife was developed by Zoltan Takats, PhD, who previously worked at Semnelweiss University in Budapest, Hungary. The operating room tests were done in 3 hospitals in Hungary, and more studies are happening now in the United Kingdom at 3 hospitals.

My take: Fascinating! The implications are huge: For example, in breast cancer surgery, about 20-30% of patients need to age a second operation to remove more tissue (in order to get clear margins). I look forward to confirmatory studies regarding the innovative iKnife. I may someday need to add to my collection of i-devices, including IPad and IPhone! I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad:  Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minuteable now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

Reference: Sci Transl Med 2013; %:194ra93. Abstract.

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Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

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