Surgically removing tumors usually involves a bit of guessing on where cancerous tissue ends and healthy begins. The surgeons also have to keep the tumor margin as wide as possible to make sure that the entire specimen has been removed. Current methods to help make the guessing game more precise involves preoperative scans and sending surgical tissue samples for path analysis. Researchers from Justus-Liebig University in Giessen, Germany have now recognized that when surgeons are using electric cautery, the smoke that’s released contains information about what is being cut. By using a mass spectrometer attached to the smoke collecting vacuum, the scientists are hoping to develop a technology that will provide almost real time, clinically useful information about the tissue under the knife.
Technology Review reports:
The new system not only provides real-time information, but also produces an image of the tumor, using chemical information, which could also help guide postoperative care. The imager could, for example, reveal a particularly aggressive form of cancer, and this information could guide oncologists in prescribing the right drug.
So far, the German researchers have tested the surgical mass-spectrometry system in several animals, including rodents, with cancer. The group is also working with veterinarians to use the scalpel during tumor-removal surgeries in dogs with naturally occurring tumors. Next month the device will go into human clinical trials, and Takáts is working with Meyer-Haake, a German electrosurgical device company, to develop the machinery.
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