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article imageiKnife helps surgeons find cancer

By Kirstin Stokes Smith     Jul 18, 2013 in Science
London - An intelligent surgical knife is helping surgeons identify cancer instantly. It is hoped that the knife will reduce the necessity for multiple cancer surgeries by diagnosing unhealthy tissue the first time around.
The intelligent knife, or “iKnife,” is being credited with “sniffing smoke” resulting from electrosurgical removal of cancerous tissue. Future use of the iKnife may eliminate the need for lab analysis, which may reduce the amount of repeat surgeries for cancer patients, Medical News Today reports.
In an interview with Medical News Today, inventor of the iKnife, Dr. Zoltan Takats, said his knife can be used in different kinds of cancer surgeries.
“It is a generally applicable tool,” Takats said, adding, “we believe it will be useful for many different types of cancer surgeries.”
Typically in cancers involving solid tumors, surgeons remove a margin of healthy tissue along with the tumor. It has been difficult to determine whether the healthy tissue is cancerous without testing and, in some cases, secondary surgery. It is estimated that one in five breast cancer surgeries require a second surgery to remove all of the cancer, reports the Imperial College London.
Takats based his iKnife on present-day electrosurgery, which uses knives that heat tissue with an electrical current. The iKnife analyzes the smoke from the cauterizing tissue and then provides a reading to the surgical team.
The iKnife was tested in an operating theater by researchers at Imperial College London and the results of this research were published this week in Science Translational Medicine. During the research phase, the iKnife diagnosed tissue samples from 91 patients with 100 percent accuracy. Diagnostic information that typically takes 30 minutes to receive from the laboratory was available instantly.
Researchers are now hoping to run a clinical trial in which surgeons will be given iKnives. The clinical trials will test the reliability of the iKnife in the field as a diagnostic tool. In an interview with Medical News Today, Takats spoke about the increased accuracy provided to surgeons using the iKnife. He is optimistic about its future in operating rooms saying that he and his team “believe it has the potential to reduce tumor recurrence rates and enable more patients to survive.”
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