iKnife makes the cut!

Researchers at Imperial College London have developed ‘The Intelligent Knife’ also known as the sniffing scalpel.
Inventor: Dr Zolkan Takats 

Device = Electrosurgical knife + mass spectrometer
How does it work?

The electrosurgical knife burns through tissue, creating smoke (a gaseous sample) which is carried through to a mass spectrometer; an analytical instrument.

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 19.25.24

Ref: Imperial College London/Science Translational Medicine

CHEMISTRY CONTENT:

A mass spectrometer is widely used in the chemical industry as it provides accurate data on the chemical composition of measured compounds on a graph such as those shown below.

There are numerous types of mass spectrometers which measure different types of samples; solid, liquid, gas. Essentially, the sample is ionised by breaking the compound into fragments which are charged. These fragments are then measured according to their mass:charge ratio, x axis in the graphs above, which can then be identified to prove its chemical composition. The peaks in the graphs, y axis, show the abundance of each fragment.

(This device in particular uses a Rapid Evaporative Ionisation Mass Spectrometer, REIMS)

OVERVIEW:

This is a major breakthrough as it takes seconds for the analytical measurement to be completed. The readings are then matched against a reference library of cancerous and healthy cells. A traffic light signal is used to direct the surgeon whether or not to continue cutting.

On screen signal:

Red – Cancerous cells still present; keep cutting.

Green- Healthy cells present; stop cutting.

In its first study, with 81 cases, the iKnife proved 100% accurate. This device has cut down surgery time where it took ≤30 mins for lab results to analyse samples and increased efficiency as fewer patients require a second surgery for successful removal of cancerous tissue.

In the past, studies show that 20% of breast cancer patients required a second operation for complete success. The iKnife shows promising statistics to relieve patients from going under the knife several times. However, the device does not come cheap, at over £250,000 a piece. This could drop should it be commercialised for wider use.

FUTURE:

We may see the iKnife being used for a whole range of tests soon as it can also detects the difference between horsemen and beef which could have prevented some scandals!

References:

J. Balog et al. ‘Intraoperative tissue identification using rapid evaporative ionization mass spectrometry.’ Sci. Transl. Med. 5, 194ra93 (2013).

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s