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New ‘smart needle’ to make brain surgery safer

New ‘smart needle’ to make brain surgery safer

A new high-tech medical device to make brain surgery safer has been developed by researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) at The University of Adelaide.

The tiny imaging probe, encased within a brain biopsy needle, lets surgeons ‘see’ at-risk blood vessels as they insert the needle, allowing them to avoid causing bleeds that can potentially be fatal.

The project is a collaboration with the University of Western Australia and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. Professor Robert McLaughlin, Chair of Biophotonics, at CNBP, said

“We call it a smart needle. It contains a tiny fibre-optic camera, the size of a human hair, shining infrared light to see the vessels before the needle can damage them. And what’s really exciting is the computer smarts behind this so that the computer itself recognises the blood vessel and alerts the surgeon.”

Over the past six months, the ‘smart needle’ has been used in a pilot trial with 12 patients undergoing neurosurgery at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Western Australia. The smart needle will be ready for formal clinical trials in 2018.

The team are in discussions with a number of international medical device manufacturers and are seeking to manufacture the smart needles in Australia. “It’s an ideal technology to commercialise in Australia,” says Professor McLaughlin.

New smart needle to make brain surgery safer

Media issued by The University of Adelaide.

Image Credit: iStock by Getty Images

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