“Smart Scalpel” Can Identify Tumors in Half a Second

The tool can distinguish early-stage brain tumors that look just like healthy tissue, and it does so almost instantly.

4. 20. 16 by Cecille De Jesus
Mariella Moon
Image by Mariella Moon

Safer Brain Surgery

Brain surgery is never easy. There is always risk; however, it just got a little bit safer.

Mexican engineer David Oliva Uribe’s invention, a “smart scalpel,” has sensors that identify tumors within half a second, minimizing the chance of human errors, repeat procedures, and the risk of brain damage during surgery.

“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 depends on the experience, as well as the senses of sight and touch of the surgeon,” Uribe says.

Positive Future

Notably, the tool was tested on pig’s brains with artificial tumors. So it’s not actually available to doctors just yet, and there is need for further testing.


But although it may take several years, and a host of clinical trials before making it to operation tables, Uribe is hopeful, and he says the sensor technology can be adapted for detecting tumors in other body parts—such as the stomach or intestine. It can also potentially empower teleoperation devices such as those in assisted surgeries by robots.

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