The New York College of Health Professions announced last Wednesday, Feb. 15 that a new patent, created by inventor Donald Spector, will allow biopsy results to be received in real time.
The new technology enables in-vivo cells, cells within humans, to be visible during surgery through an attachment of a surgical instrument. The attachment captures images of the cells, imitating what previously would have been slide databases. This information is then compared to slides in a computer database and “then transferred back on thin film technology to an optical surgical glass that displays an analysis identifying the cells or pathogens,” a press release stated.
“This device will allow surgeons to have biopsy results in real time,” Lisa Pamintuan, president of New York College, said in an interview.
Spector’s technology will allow surgeons to know the composition of the cell whether it be malignant, benign or bacterial and to instantly diagnose the patient, according to a press release.
The device will also allow surgeons to know precisely how much tissue to remove or destroy during a single surgery.
“If we can spare some time, save some time under anesthesia where the patient is not waiting or the surgical team is not waiting for 15 to 20 minutes to get an answer, that is helpful,” Dr Eva Chalas, a Gynecologic Oncologist at Winthrop University Hospital, said.
There are two processes for biopsies today: frozen and permanent. Both processes require tissue to be removed; however, permanent sections can have additional testing. Frozen section results usually take 20 minutes whilst permanent sections can take up to a week.
“Examinations took more than a week to identify the results, but not enough information from that biopsy to make any further decision,” Mohammad Lokmanuzzaman, a two-time survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, said. Lokmanuzzaman believes a quicker response to the biopsy would have meant less anxiety during the waiting time for his diagnosis.
Spector’s invention could even help patients living in remote locations. For Lynn Francis, a pancreatic cancer patient in London, the invention could have meant avoiding a two week waiting period in which inflamed blood vessels and arteries made surgery impossible.
“I was told it was operable and just after Christmas they would operate. I had a CT scan in the morning and saw the surgeon in the afternoon when I was told that in those two weeks it had become inoperable,” Francis said.
Francis has been receiving chemotherapy for three months to shrink the tumor.
The technology has yet to be introduced to hospitals and cancer centers and because of this does not have any data about the accuracy of its testing.
“Accuracy is important,” Chalas said. “If this technology turns out to be more accurate than I suspect that we will be switching to that technique.”
For patients like Lokmanuzzaman and Francis, the most painful part of any procedure is the wait time for the results.
Without the wait for results, this new technology will hopefully hinder the emotional stress patients experience in the future.