Brain cancer is one of the deadliest cancers. The surgery to remove the tumor is often very invasive.
But now engineers at Vanderbilt University have designed a device that can make surgery easier for both doctor and patient, and the same technology also holds promise for lung cancer diagnosis.
Removing a brain tumor in the center of the head is not an easy task for surgeons.
"Basically you're having to go through a lot of healthy brain tissue to get to that central part of the head," said Andria Remirez, a Ph.D. student at Vanderbilt University.
But a technique that allows surgeons to go through the nose can save that healthy tissue. However, one problem still exists.
"When they do this, they're using these straight, rigid tools - basically chopsticks that they have to put through your nose," Remirez explained.
A team of engineers designed flexible, steerable needles made up of metal tubes that can bend and twist as they move, giving easier access to the site of the tumor. The team has also used the same tools for diagnosing lung cancer. For current tools ...
"One of the problems they have is at the far-out areas of the lung, they have no visualization out there and they also can't steer their biopsy tools to get to those areas," said Margaret Rox, a Ph.D. student at Vanderbilt University.
The success rate of diagnosis with existing tools for tumors that are difficult to reach is 60 to 70 percent. With this new technology adding to existing tools like the bronchoscope ...
"We think we could hopefully get that to a hundred," Rox stated.
Which means for those with possible lung cancer ...
"The faster you can get that diagnosis, confirmation of lung cancer, the faster you can get treatment," Rox said.
Saving lives, one twist at a time.
Risks for current methods for lung biopsy include lung collapse or bleeding due to the surgeon not being able to see clearly to get to a difficult to reach lung lesion. This new technology would allow the surgeon much better visibility, reach and to more accurately target far-off tumors.
Contributors: Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor
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