A medical researcher at Imperial College London has created a smart knife which can tell doctors within three seconds if a group of tissue is cancerous or not, making biopsies possible during operations.
A medical researcher at Imperial College London has created a smart knife which can tell doctors within three seconds if a group of tissue is cancerous or not, making biopsies possible during operations. “To create the iKnife, he connected an electrosurgical knife to a mass spectrometer, an analytical instrument used to identify what chemicals are present in a sample. Different types of cell produce thousands of metabolites in different concentrations, so the profile of chemicals in a biological sample can reveal information about the state of that tissue.”
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What’s the Big Idea?
By providing such instant results, the smart knife can improve the success rate of patient surgeries by giving doctors better information about the tissue they are operating on. And despite its novel use, the knife is based on rather elementary technology. “The iKnife is based on electrosurgery, a technology invented in the 1920s that is commonly used today. Electrosurgical knives use an electrical current to rapidly heat tissue, cutting through it while minimizing blood loss. In doing so, they vaporize the tissue, creating smoke that is normally sucked away by extraction systems.”