Brain tumors result in more life years lost than any other tumor, as they often strike the young. In most cases, doctors recommend a brain surgery to remove the tumor. Currently, the surgeon has to send samples of the removed tissue to the lab for biopsy to find out if it is cancerous or health. There is also the risk of cutting into healthy brain tissue, leading to serious side effects such as loss of speech or movement.
A new laser probe and smart knife look set to change this by effectively bringing the lab into the operating theater, providing near instant confirmation for the surgeon of whether the tissue is cancerous or healthy.
Measuring the light scattered by the tissue, the laser probe is able to distinguish between cancerous and healthy tissue and this helps the surgeon to map the tumor and decide precisely where to cut.
The smart knife - called the iKnife - confirms within seconds whether the tissue being cut is cancerous or healthy without the need for a biopsy. It comprises an electric scalpel that burns the tissue, the smoke from which is sucked away and instantly analyzed.
The use of these two innovative technologies in brain surgery considerably improves the speed and accuracy of removing brain tumors.