Design of a Smart Surgical Knife

Lumpectomy is the preferred surgical treatment for women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. At this stage, the cancerous tissue only forms a small portion of the breast and during lumpectomy, the surgeon removes this portion of the breast along with some surrounded healthy tissue to assure the complete resection of the tumor and meanwhile satisfactory cosmetic outcomes. On the surgical side, the tumor and healthy breast tissue cannot always be clearly distinguished, making it difficult for the surgeon to determine where to dissect the tissue. Difficulty in detecting the border of the tumor in lumpectomy can result in incomplete tumor resection which only can be determined by histopathological investigation of the excised specimens after the surgery. In this case, the treatment of the patient may continue with a re-excision surgery or extra chemotherapy. Using an intraoperative margin assessment technique during lumpectomy could help the surgeon with detecting the border of the tumor and distinguish it from the breast’s healthy tissue. Among different type of techniques, diffused reflectance spectroscopy (DRS) has recently become known as a promising tumor detection technique and has been widely studied for its application in this field. Recently we studied the possibility of integrating an electrosurgical knife with a DRS system to provide the surgeon with real-time oncological guidance during the lumpectomy. To find the optimum design of the smart surgical knife we are looking for an enthusiastic MSc student who can come up with creative design ideas.

If you are interested in designing surgical instruments and preferably have a background in mechanical design, then you are the right person for this MSc project/assignment.  For more information please contact Sara Azizian Amiri, s.azizianamiri@tudelft.nl.