My opinion: Not only may this help reduce hospital readmission rates and make surgeries faster, but I think this idea could lead to others. For example, it isn't only that surgeons may leave some cancerous tissue, but sometimes they forget their tools inside the patient. For this, perhaps hospital instruments could remind them to check as they complete the surgery, or the tools could beep and light up if they are surrounded by too much tissue, as if they were laying on the inside on the body. There are still a few things about the article that I don't understand. How can a lab sample indicate if the tumor is still inside the body? Also, I'm not sure this knife works for benign tumors, since they aren't considered cancerous, but these sometimes how to be removed. Is there a way to make a knife for benign tumors? Feel free to comment.
New surgical knife can instantly detect cancer
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 analyzes the smoke and can instantly signal whether the tissue is cancerous or healthy.
Now surgeons have to send the tissue to a lab and wait for the results.
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.
To make sure they've removed the tumor, surgeons now send samples to a laboratory while the patient remains on the operating table. It can take about 30 minutes to get an answer in the best hospitals, but even then doctors cannot be entirely sure, so they often remove a bit more tissue than they think is strictly necessary.
If some cancerous cells remain, patients may need to have another surgery or undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment.