The innovative iKnife was developed a few years but it’s still making big waves within the industry and is set to continue having an impact on how surgeries are conducted.
The revolutionary knife tells surgeons immediately whether the tissue they are cutting though is cancerous or healthy tissue. Researchers at Imperial College London found that the intelligent tool has a 100% accuracy, removing the need for surgeons and other medical practitioners to wait for information to come from laboratory tests, speeding up surgery times. Removing cancerous tissue is challenging as it’s impossible to tell by sight which tissue is health and which is cancerous, and as fully removing a tumour usually results in the best prognosis for cancer patients the iKnife device can improve patient outcomes. For example, around 20% of breast cancer patients require further surgery to remove all the cancer but the iKnife applications could eliminate this.
It not only means that patients have improved results, but it allows hospitals to better deploy their resources and staff, allowing them to reduce waiting times.
While the iKnife is ground-breaking, it actually uses technology that is decades old. Electrosurgical knives, which rapidly heat tissue to minimise blood loss, are commonly used. The smart part of the iKnife comes in recognising that the smoke created from these tools offer biological information. Through taking this information, the iKnife can almost instantly state whether the tissue is cancerous of not.
The iKnife is already in use at the Imperial College London and is being trialled across several different types of cancer, including breast, colon, and ovarian cancer. But in the future, it could have other applications and be adapted to suit other kinds of surgeries. As a result, it could soon be an essential tool in all surgeries.
So, how will the iKnife affect surgeries throughout hospitals?
Firstly, it will allow surgeons to conduct some surgeries seamlessly. While typically surgeons will have to wait for lab results to come back, the iKnife can remove these waiting times. For hospitals, it can help to reduce costs, fit more surgeries in throughout shifts, and allow them to ensure they’re getting the most out of their skilled staff.
The iKnife is just one tool that’s set to revolutionise the medical sector. In the future it’s expected that it could be used to produce instant analysis of mucous membranes and the respiratory, urinogenital, or gastrointestinal systems.