Internet of Things smart needle probes the brain during surgery

January 20, 2017 by Caleb Radford
Professor Robert McLaughlin (right) with the smart needle. Credit: University of Adelaide

A "smart" needle with an embedded camera is helping doctors perform safer brain surgery.

The device was developed by researchers at the University of Adelaide in South Australia and uses a to identify at-risk blood vessels.

The probe, which is the size of a human hair, uses an infrared light to look through the brain.

It then uses the Internet of Things to send the information to a computer in real-time and alerts doctors of any abnormalities.

The project was a collaboration with the University of Western Australia and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital where a six-month pilot trial of the smart needle was run.

Research leader and Chair of the University of Adelaide's Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics Robert McLaughlin said researchers were also looking at other applications for the device including .

He said surgeons previously relied on scans taken prior to surgery to avoid hitting blood vessels but the smart needle was a more accurate method that highlighted their locations in real-time.

"There are about 256,000 cases of brain cancer a year and about 2.3 per cent of the time you can make a significant impact that could end in a stroke or death," he said.

"This (smart needle) would help that … it works sort of like an ultrasound but with light instead.

"It also has that takes the picture, analyses it and it can determine if what it is seeing is a blood vessel or tissue."

The trial at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital involved 12 patients who were undergoing craniotomies.

The needle with a 200-micron wide camera was successfully able to identify blood vessels during the surgery.

Professor Christopher Lind, who led the trial, said having a needle that could see as surgeons proceeded through the brain was a medical breakthrough.

Professor McLaughlin said the smart needle had potential to be used in other surgical procedures. Credit: University of Adelaide

"It will open the way for safer surgery, allowing us to do things we've not been able to do before," he said.

The smart needle will be ready for formal clinical trials in 2018.

Professor McLaughlin said he hoped manufacturing of the smart needle would begin within five years.

Explore further: Potential new tool to aid breast cancer surgery (Update)

Related Stories

Potential new tool to aid breast cancer surgery (Update)

November 30, 2016
University of Adelaide researchers have developed an optical fiber probe that distinguishes breast cancer tissue from normal tissue - potentially allowing surgeons to be much more precise when removing breast cancer.

Can the brain feel it? The world's smallest extracellular needle-electrodes

October 25, 2016
A research team in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Information Engineering and the Electronics-Inspired Interdisciplinary Research Institute (EIIRIS) at Toyohashi University of Technology developed 5-μm-diameter ...

Scientists program robot for 'soft tissue' surgery

May 5, 2016
Not even the surest surgeon's hand is quite as steady and consistent as a robotic arm built of metal and plastic, programmed to perform the same motions over and over. So could it handle the slippery stuff of soft tissues ...

Needle guide improves catheterization of subclavian vein

September 1, 2015
(HealthDay)—A multi-angle needle guide can improve ultrasound-guided catheterization of the subclavian vein, according to a study published online Aug. 28 in Anaesthesia.

Anaesthetic technique important to prevent damage to brain

March 31, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the University of Adelaide have discovered that a commonly used anaesthetic technique to reduce the blood pressure of patients undergoing surgery could increase the risk of starving the brain ...

Recommended for you

One weight-loss surgery shows lasting results

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Obesity surgery can have long-lasting effects on weight and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, a new study finds.

Hold the phone: An ambulance might lower your chances of surviving some injuries

September 20, 2017
Victims of gunshots and stabbings are significantly less likely to die if they're taken to the trauma center by a private vehicle than ground emergency medical services (EMS), according to results of a new analysis.

Surgeons have major influence on breast cancer treatment

September 13, 2017
A woman's choice of surgeon plays a significant role in whether she's likely to receive an increasingly popular aggressive breast cancer surgery.

Some thyroid cancer patients can safely delay surgery

September 4, 2017
Most people diagnosed with cancer want to start treatment as soon as possible, for fear that delaying care will allow their tumor to grow out of control.

Obese people lack cells with satiety hormones

August 29, 2017
Individuals with severe overweight have an inhibited sense of satiation - they release fewer satiety hormones than people of normal weight. The reason: the responsible cells in the gastrointestinal tract of obese people are ...

Anesthesia and surgery during infancy may impact white matter during childhood

August 24, 2017
General anesthesia and surgery in otherwise healthy infants under the age of 1 year old could be associated with decreases in the amount of white matter in the brain, as well as reductions in the remaining white matter's ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

BENRAS
not rated yet Jan 22, 2017
Identification of the actual dimension and location of the blood vessel might be processed so as to provide a haptic feedback to rhe operating surgeon.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.