Magnetising tissue could help surgeons

Magnetising tissue in keyhole surgery

15.08.2006

Scientists hope to improve the effectiveness of keyhole surgery and cancer treatment by making patient's tissue magnetic, allowing better imaging before and during an operation.

Although the development of keyhole surgery has heralded huge improvements in the level of post-operative pain, scarring, and the risk of infection, it does mean that surgeons are restricted in how much they can see and feel, and in the range of instruments that will fit through the "keyhole".

As well as improving imaging, magnetic tissue could aid drug delivery and allow the creation of new and better surgical instruments. It may also help prevent tumour cells escaping from an operation site into a patient's blood stream, as it is hoped the magnetic attraction can be used to hold cancer cells in one place.