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High-tech scalpel makes brain surgery less risky

Engadget Engadget 17/04/2016 Mariella Moon
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The "smart scalpel" developed by a researcher named David Oliva Uribe in Brussels, Belgium doesn't look or even work like a conventional scalpel. It has no edge, has a sensor-rich sphere at the tip, and instead of having the capability to cut people open, it can differentiate between cancerous tumors and normal brain tissue. A surgeon simply has to swipe it across the brain's surface to get a visual or an auditory result about the tissue's status in half a second. The tool's especially useful when locating early stage tumors, which still look similar to healthy tissue.

Uribe explained:

"Although imaging techniques such as an MRI and an ultrasound locate a tumor accurately before the surgery, during the cranial opening and throughout the surgical procedure there are many factors that can lead to the loss of this position, so the resection (the removing of the tumor) depends on the experience, as well as the senses of sight and touch of the surgeon."

His scalpel has only been tested on pigs' brains and artificial tumors thus far, so it could take many years (and numerous clinical/human trials) before it's used in operating rooms. If it passes those trials in flying colors, it could be tweaked for use in other areas of the body, such as the stomach and the intestine. Uribe isn't the only scientist developing a tool that can make cancer surgery and removing tumors less risk. Back in 2013, researchers from London's Imperial College created a "smart knife" that can distinguish cancerous from healthy tissues as it cuts.

AlphaGalileo

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