Surgeons currently wait up to 30 minutes while tissues are biopsied to determine if they are cancerous, an expensive and potentially dangerous delay. This means patients are usually taken out of surgery before results are known. This waiting time could be slashed to just five minutes if researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee are successful in developing an automated mass spectrometry-based method that examines droplets taken from the tissue sample. The new biopsy method would give surgeons options while the patient is still in the operating room. In fact, the new procedure could take place in the operating room.
The researchers used technology previously developed at Oak Ridge, including a liquid microjunction surface-sampling probe patented by the laboratory. Oak Ridge is currently the only facility in the world that has the droplet-based sampling probe and necessary software for it to function.