Smart Scalpel Locates Cancerous Tumors in the Brain

smart scalpel

New innovations and discoveries in healthcare continue to amaze and awe people both inside and outside the healthcare profession. They have created wonders that very much helped in the delivery of quality patient care. But wait, there’s more. A new discovery is making its rounds and is bringing up hope in people.

Introducing the smart scalpel

Removing a brain tumor is a delicate task, since if it is not done properly, it can have catastrophic consequences including brain damage, motor impairment or failure in controlling a vital organ function. Because of this, scientists in their aim to perform this procedure more precisely have designed an intelligent scalpel which is said to have the ability to locate cancerous tumors in the brain.

This smart scalpel is designed to be used in the operating room when a brain tumor is already diagnosed and the only solution is to remove it and determines whether an area is healthy or tumorous. The tool has the size of a scalpel, however, the tip is spherical and of a diameter smaller than one millimeter.

The authors of the study obtained satisfactory results when a prototype of the device was used in trial experiments to remove brain tissue and fake tumors from pigs, convincing the researchers they cannot go ahead with human trials. It also features integrated sensors that by wiping the surface warns the neurosurgeon with visual and/or auditory displays about the status of tissue, refraining to be a distraction. The results are then obtained in less than half a second, saving vital time during the operation.

The intelligent scalpel’s edge

The Tecnológico de Monterrey stated that “Although imaging techniques such as an MRI and an ultrasound locate a tumor 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 tumor) depends on the experience, as well as the senses of sight and touch of the surgeon.”

Furthermore, according to David Oliva, president of the Mexican Talent Network Abroad chapter Belgium, “the instrument is designed to locate tumors 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.”

Also, with the tool’s extreme sensitivity to touch, the neurosurgeon is saved of the trouble of relying on microscopic observation to identify the edges of a tumor, or on manipulating tissues in a manner that could cause the loss of sensitivity in brain texture.

After 6 years of perfecting the tool, Oliva explained that the sensor technology of the device could be miniaturized to locate tumors in the stomach or intestine where endoscopes could be employed to analyze and remove the tumor. The device could also be used by robots in assisted surgeries because of its sensor technology.


Liane Clores, RN MAN

Currently an Intensive Care Unit nurse, pursuing a degree in Master of Arts in Nursing Major in Nursing Service Administration. Has been a contributor of Student Nurses Quarterly, Vox Populi, The Hillside Echo and the Voice of Nightingale publications. Other experience include: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Obstetric, Emergency and Recovery Room Nursing.

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