From smartphones to smart cars and smart homes, now this D.C.-based start-up company is attempting to release the “smart needle.”
Smart needles seem only appropriate as we inch closer to a seemingly sci-fi-based reality with neuralink, ChatGPT and quantum computing. Remarkably, this development, unlike the catastrophic undertones of ChatGPT, is a positive one that can only improve medicine.
This start-up is aiming at disrupting modern health care treatments with the intent of providing superior curative care to cancer patients.
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What is the Smart Needle?
The smart needle was designed by Current Surgical to treat cancerous, malignant tumors with high precision without the need for invasive surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. The technology uses novel ultrasound sensors to allow doctors to see and destroy tumors in real time without damaging surrounding healthy tissue. A version of this tech already exists, known as “thermal ablation,” which is also used to destroy tumors, although this method remains much less precise than Current Surgical’s “smart needle.”
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By combining high-resolution sensors and real-time image analysis, the innovative tech powering the “smart needle” gives doctors precise control and feedback while destroying tumors with minimal damage to the patient. With this technology, surgeons can treat tumors in any location, potentially providing millions of patients with curative surgery that was previously impossible.
Unfortunately, the smart needle is not without its flaws.
Downsides to the Smart Needle
While true that smart needles have many benefits to treating a tumor, from their precision-reduced risk of complications and damage to healthy tissue, they also come with various limitations.
As you could imagine, these suckers are not cheap. Due to the high-tech that powers these smart needles, they likely will be quite costly to use. Unfortunately, for patients who can’t afford high medical bills, the smart needle becomes less accessible.
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Another consequence of the introduction of new medical devices, not all doctors know how to use them! It requires specialization and training to properly utilize the device. It’s safe to say that ordinary surgeons may experience a learning curve when first using these.
Since smart needles rely on advanced sensors and image processing algorithms, they will likely be limited by the resolution of the imaging system or the accuracy of the sensors.
While smart needles appear to be much safer at treating cancerous tumors, the product is still new and has not been widely used, leading to safety concerns. Some argue the device should undergo extensive and rigorous testing to ensure that all glitches and malfunctions are solved.
Lastly, these devices will require regulation to protect the consumer and patient from violations surrounding patient privacy and data. It must be ensured that these devices are only used for their intended purpose and do not break any privacy laws.
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Who is the company behind the Smart Needle?
Current Surgical is a DC-based start-up company that has raised millions in funding to further develop its “smart needle” technology to help diminish the need for invasive surgeries. According to the CEO, Al Mashal, “technological advancements now allow us to detect cancers earlier and earlier, but the capability to treat those tumors hasn’t improved … we are bridging this gap through our smart needle technology. We want to allow doctors to curatively treat cancers in hard-to-reach places — without the harmful, debilitating side effects of other treatment options.”
The company’s long-term goal is to create a software-enabled surgical platform that can be used to treat a range of conditions beyond tumors, such as chronic pain and cardiac arrhythmia. Current Surgical plans to test the device with clinical collaborators in a preclinical setting to pass regulatory protocols and receive approval from the FDA.
Although I’ve never been a fan of needles, I will show some bias and admit I am a fan of this “smart needle” and the company’s ambition to improve on curative health care.
Smart needles represent an exciting new development in the field of medicine, offering the potential for more effective and less invasive treatment options for a wide range of conditions. It remains to be seen, however, if the introduction of this high-tech medical device will exacerbate existing inequalities in health care access.
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