With nothing but bad news coming out of Washington, D. C., especially as it relates to Obamacare, it is nice to occasionally hear some good news.  A Medical breakthrough is on the horizon. The “Smart Knife” as it is identified, looks like a cautery that you use in surgery but also to remove things. What makes this knife smart? It’s called “Smart” because it can detect cancer masses. When used as a cautery it creates smoke. The smoke can be analyzed for traces of cancer. There is a monitor hooked to it which will read the smoke and indicate if it’s Green (good) tissue or Red (cancer) tissue. If the smoke is red it shows it is cutting through cancerous tissue and the goal is to go beyond the cancer tissue back into green. This way the cancer borders are defined and surgeon know they have  gotten all the cancer mass.

Dr. David Samadi, A fox medical analysts, and much more than I have room for here, “suggests this is only in the testing phase and has only been done on 91 patients but out of those 91 it was completely accurate, telling them if it was cancer or not.”  The doctor is a little skeptical for the future of this until more clinical research and trials can be done into more humans to find out what’s going on. He is still very inspired at this point. He states, ”It’s called the smart knife because it may help surgeons to cut out only cancerous tissue and leave behind all the healthy tissue.”

* Surgeons typically use knives that heat tissues

* Smart Knife can analyze smoke to know if tissue is cancerous

* Scientist tested the Smart Knife at 3 hospitals between the years,  2010 – 2012

* Study:  Smart Knife correctly found cancerous tissues in 91 patients

* Cancer is the 2nd most common cause of death in the U.S.

* Cancer accounts for nearly 1 in 4 U.S. deaths

* More than 1.6 Million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2013

What’s going on in surgery now is you do a liver or a brain dissection. If there is suspicious tissue you can cut it out and send it to Pathology right there. It’s called frozen section, you get a margin and you find out if you are leaving any cancer cells behind or not. With this new Smart Knife, it can be seen on the monitor. They basically start cauterizing it, cutting the tissue and using the smoke to analyze it.

Surgeons are cutting tissue out of the body and obviously want to cut enough of the non-cancer out surrounding the cancer mass in hopes of encapsulating all of the cells.

Is this procedure being done inside the body or just tested on the tissue once you take it out? Right now in its infancy stage it is exclusively done on tissue outside the body to exactly find the accuracy and efficacy of it.

Once it has gone through the clinical trial period it will most certainly be interjected into surgical procedures. Dr. Samadi gives an example: ”let’s say in a brain or liver resection you may not see the difference between a good or bad tissue. We will be able to put the knife there and see what smoke is coming out, analyze it and then go further.” This will make Surgeons margins a lot lower and the chances of leaving any cancer cells minuscule.

This won’t work in prostrate surgery because you don’t want to use any kind of cauterizing near those sensitive nerves which is what we do with the Robotic surgery. For brain, liver colon, pancreas and other organs the Smart Knife will be a wonderful tool.

It saves time as well, because the tissue doesn’t have to be sent to the Pathologists while the Doctor waits for the results, it can be analyzed very quickly with the smoke coloration. It also reduces chances of second or third surgeries due to the accuracy of being able to remove the full extent of the cancer mass the first go-round. This enables even older patients to heal fully without the toll a second surgery and recovery takes on their body or the expense of numerous surgeries.

This is a very inspiring, assistant, technology to Doctors and Surgeons with a 100% accuracy in this phase. Medicine Robotic innovation has come a long way in helping expedite the way we use to do prostrate surgery not that long ago. Dr. Samadi refers to surgery when you had only your hands to feel for the mass and the blood in the field cutting down accuracy of visual.

He exclaims “now, today we have fancy Robotics where you can really magnify and see the details of the surgery .With the Smart Knife and other technology coming to the operating room it’s changing the whole field of surgery and it’s very exciting.”

I have always been amazed and excited at medical technology breakthroughs. Then I always ponder what is wrong with politics that it is stuck in the dark ages? If only politicians were as concerned about the economic and moral health of America as these physicians are for the physical health of patients, ours would be a better country. Today there is hope and excitement that cancer can be eliminated with a less invasive method and less costly to the general public. Ironically the smoke that mostly causes cancer is now helping to detect it…