The ‘iKnife’ that can detect cancerous tissue

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Researchers at London’s Imperial College have created the ‘iKnife’, an electrosurgical knife that can analyse the tissue it cuts through to determine whether it is cancerous or not. The iKnife will give surgeons a near real-time readout of where tumors end and healthy tissue begins, a distinction which is impossible by sight alone. Standard procedure is to keep a patient sedated while tests are done in an onsite laboratory which can take up to 30 minutes to yield results , the iKnife takes 3 seconds. The iKnife samples the smoke given off while it cuts through tissue and analyses it and in the first 91 patients it was used on it had a 100% success rate.

Zoltan Takats, who invented the device, is now aiming to trial the iKnife in a study involving between 1,000 and 1,500 patients with various types of cancers in a process that will take between 2-3 years before it can approach regulatory approval. The current prototype version of the iKnife cost Takats and his colleagues at the Imperial College around 200,000 pounds ($300,000) to build. Statistics show that around 1 in every 5 breast cancer patients who have lumpectomy surgery need a second operation because all of the cancerous tissue was not removed during the first surgery.

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