Patent of the Week: Eliminating Trial and Error for a Better Biopsy

Patent of the Week

University of Chicago Medicine doctor Seon-Kyu Lee has patented a novel surgical mallet design that enables biopsy needles to be positioned in place and imaged simultaneously.

Surgical biopsy needles are usually inserted by hand or with a mallet. The positioning then is verified and adjusted accordingly using X-ray imaging. However, because images cannot be taken through the mallet or surgeon’s hand, the need is positioned blindly, which prolongs procedure times and increases exposure to radiation.

(A) Schematic illustration of the translucent surgical mallet showing the positioning of radiolucent material (58) through which X-ray images of the biopsy needle can be taken. (B) Simulation image of the head of a biopsy needle (204) as taken through the translucent head of the mallet.

“Current biopsy needle systems have the inherent issue of obscuring the needle targeting process, whether the needle is inserted by hand or using a surgical mallet,” according to the patent documents. “Because available biopsy needles are straight, introducing the needle manually precludes the use of real-time guidance because the real-time imaging would expose the operator’s hand to radiation. Hand-insertion is therefore an essentially blind process, meaning real-time imaging is impractical.”

To address these challenges, the investors created a surgical mallet with a material that is transparent to X-rays, thus eliminating the trial and error associated with biopsy needle placement. The patent also covers the methods of using the mallet and methods of imaging a device while it is being positioned.

// Patent of the Week is a weekly column highlighting research and inventions from University of Chicago faculty.

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