Tumor “Sniffing” Surgical Knife

Tumor “Sniffing” Surgical Knife

It’s not uncommon for surgeries that remove tumorous tissue in the body for some tumorous cells to be left behind, no matter how precise the procedure is. The Imperial College in London created a surgical knife device that can accurately identify cancerous tissue, and do so during the first procedure, rather than needing another procedure in the future.

Currently, surgeons can remove surrounding tissue from the patient during the surgery and have that tissue tested to see if there is still cancerous tissue – but this takes time. Even testing the tissue can lead to the need for a second surgery for the patient. 1 in 5 patients who have a breast lump removed still need a second operation to clear their tumor.

This new knife uses heat to cut through tissue. Surgeons can analyze the smoke that is given off to determine where the tissue being cut is cancerous or healthy tissue. Surgeons will be able to tell almost immediately if cancerous tissue still remains and will not have to continuously provide samples for testing.

While this technology is still new and being tested in patients, so far, 91 patients have had positive results and surgeons could tell the difference between cancerous and healthy tissue. With continued improvement and use of this technology, it could cut down on the amount of surgeries that cancer patients need to have and increase the ability to remove more cancerous tissue at the first try.