Smart Knife Helps Doctors Find Cancer

It can instantly detect whether tissue is healthy or not in surgery

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 17, 2013 3:20 PM CDT

(Newser) – A nifty new knife that can sniff out cancer might soon be in operating rooms, reports Bloomberg. In its first major test, the "intelligent knife," or iKnife, did spectacularly well—as in, 100% accuracy in 91 cases. Here's how it works: When a surgeon cuts into a patient's tissue, the heat sends up smoke. The iKnife collects the smoke and analyzes it to determine whether the tissue is cancerous, explains AP. Under current procedures, doctors typically must wait a half-hour to get such results. The new knife provides them instantly.

The upshot is that when surgeons open up a patient to remove a tumor, the device would give them a much better chance of snipping out all the cancerous tissue and leaving behind all the healthy stuff. Among other things, that could reduce the need for follow-up surgeries, notes the Royal Society of Chemistry. But first comes more tests for maker Medimass. The knife costs $380,000, but the price should drop assuming it aces those tests, too, and goes commercial.

The experimental knife is used on a piece of animal muscle during a demonstration at St Mary's Hospital in London.
The experimental knife is used on a piece of animal muscle during a demonstration at St Mary's Hospital in London.   (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
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