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article imageNew ‘smoking’ tool helps with cancer surgery

By Tim Sandle     Jul 23, 2013 in Health
A new tool has been developed which can inform surgeons within seconds whether they are slicing through cancerous or healthy tissue. This can happen through detecting traces of smoke produced from cells.
The device analyzes smoke produced by electric currents used to cut or destroy tissue, according to Medicine Net. The advantage of this is that it can help surgeons identify the outer margins of a tumor and remove as much of it as possible, leaving healthy tissue intact. Currently medics need to wait 20 to 30 minutes for a tissue sample to be examined under a microscope.
The device is an electrosurgical knife dubbed, with a nod to Apple, the iKnife. In contrast to current techniques, can deliver a diagnosis in less than three seconds. Early trials indicate that the device is around 95 percent accurate in identifying cancers and other human tissues during surgery. The researchers tested out the iKnife during 81 actual cancer surgeries using the 3000-sample database as a reference, Science Now has reported.
The device works by blowing up tissue, making smoke out of it by creating electric current and then sampling that smoke with a mass spectrometer (a device analyses different molecules to determine what a chemical or substance is). One component of cells is fat, and the method can distinguish between cancerous and non-cancerous fat molecules. To aid the surgeon, information appears on a monitor: green means the tissue is healthy, red means cancerous and yellow means unidentifiable.
The studies on the iKnife to date have been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine (the paper is titled “Intraoperative Tissue Identification Using Rapid Evaporative Ionization Mass Spectrometry”). The device has yet to gain approval from medicines regulators and further trials are required.
More about Surgery, Cancer, Knife, Investigation, Medical
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