Removing a brain tumour is a delicate task, if not done properly it can have catastrophic consequences, such as brain damage, motor impairment or failure in controlling a vital organ function.
In order to make this work more precise, David Oliva Uribe has designed a “smart scalpel” that determines whether an area is healthy or tumourous.
The device is designed to be used in the operating room when a brain tumour is already diagnosed and the only solution is to remove it. The tool is the size of a scalpel, but the tip is spherical and has a >1mm diameter.
The prototype was tested in artificial tumours and brain tissue from pigs, where excellent results were obtained and demonstrated the feasibility of entering human trials.
It features integrated sensors that warn the neurosurgeon about the status of tissue without being a distraction. The results are obtained in less than half a second, saving vital time during the operation.
“Although imaging techniques such as an MRI and ultrasound locate a tumour 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 tumour) depends on the experience, as well as the senses of sight and touch of the surgeon.”
“During surgery, the doctor only has two ways to recognise the edges of a tumour; through microscopic observation or tissue manipulation tools, with which brain texture sensitivity is lost, hence the importance of having a precision instrument that is more sensitive to the touch than the surgeon.”
David Oliva, president of the Mexican Talent Network Abroad chapter Belgium, explained that the instrument is designed to locate tumours at an early stage, when it is visible through an MRI but not in the operating room because its physical characteristic are similar to those of healthy tissue, making it difficult to discern.
The design of the device has been worked on for six years, the mechanical and sensory components were made at the University of Hannover, Germany, and specialised neurosurgery hospitals, and digital processing was developed at the Free University of Brussels, Belgium (VUB).
Oliva detailed that the sensor technology can be miniaturised and adapted to detect tumours in other areas of the body such as stomach or intestine where it is necessary to introduce a tiny device called endoscope to evaluate the tissue and remove the malignant area.
Furthermore, it is possible to extend the device to the application in assisted surgeries by robots, because the sensor technology has the quality to empower these tele-operation devices.
[hr] Source: Investigacion y Desarrollo