The advancements in cancer treatments over the past decade have truly been stunning. One of the most intriguing is the new iKnife, a surgical instrument that can actually detect cancer as it is cutting. This advancement has created a huge buzz in the medical field as continued tests have shown its remarkable effectiveness.
Developed by a research team at the Imperial College in London, this “intelligent” surgical knife promises to revolutionize how cancer removal operations are conducted, promising to help save time and increase the efficiency of cancer removal operations.
How the iKnife Works
The iKnife cuts like an ordinary surgical instrument, but it has additional functions that allow it to detect cancerous cells.
When the iKnife cuts through the tissues, the cells are vaporized by a heating element in the knife. The smoke that is created from the destroyed cells is analyzed by a sensor that is attached to the knife as well. This is because the smoke contains a great deal of biological information that can be detected, particularly the difference between normal and cancerous cells.
In three seconds, the sensor records whether the cells destroyed were cancerous in nature or not. This is vital information since it is difficult to impossible to tell with many cells whether they contain cancerous material. If this knife does detect cancer, the surgeon can expand the removal process until all the cancerous cells are removed.
The Advancement of the iKnife
Recently, an MIT engineer created an implant that can continuously monitor a cancerous tumor. This means that patients would have to undergo fewer operations as the monitoring device keeps track of the growth of the cancer. However, this implant is still unable to detect the cancerous material itself and is still in the early stages of development.
The iKnife manages to take this process one step further and detect cancerous cells in a manner that is not currently possible with the current tumor monitor. Since the monitoring device cannot destroy cells, it does not have the ability to read whether
The Value of the iKnife
The importance of the iKnife cannot be overstated as one of the most pressing issues with surgery is the chance that cancerous cells are left behind. Studies have revealed that 20% of breast cancer patients have had to undergo a second operation to remove more cancerous materials.
Also, surgical procedures for cancer often remove a great deal of healthy, unaffected tissues as a precaution. The iKnife can solve that issue by precisely cutting away the cancer and leaving more of the healthy tissues behind, which speeds up the recovery process.
In one study, 91 patients were reviewed after undergoing cancer removal surgery with the iKnife. All 91 did not have to undergo a second procedure to remove additional cancer cells, which meant a success rate of 100% was achieved.
Currently, the iKnife has yet to enter commercial production, so the cost of this device is just over $300,000. However, when it does enter full scale production, the cost is expected to drop considerably, meaning the cancer patients around the world may soon benefit from the advancement the iKnife represents.