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Robotic technology may lead to more accurate cancer diagnoses

According to the American Association of Preferred Provider Organizations, cancer surgeons perform more than 1.7 million breast biopsies every year. The accuracy of the diagnoses has always been hampered by human error and limited technology. However, a robotic biopsy system now under development could change this forever. Surgical pathologists in New York and across the U.S. may want to know how this could enhance their work.

The robot, known as the Stormram 4, is made to fit inside the narrowest MRI bores. In fact, this 3D-printed machine is considered the smallest robot of its kind. Rather than use a thick needle multiple times, the Stormram 4 aims a thin needle at the target coordinate and retrieves a biopsy sample on the first insertion with sub-millimeter precision.

Since the needle insertion takes place in the MRI scanner itself, surgeons can follow the needle through almost real-time imaging. The improved quality of the samples will allow anatomic pathologists to more accurately find breast cancer. However, the Stormram 4 may have to see several more years of developments and trials before receiving regulatory approval.

At the same time, other researchers are developing MRI-guided medical robots to take over the process of lead placement for deep brain stimulation. This could affect the way doctors treat prostate cancer and Parkinson's disease.

Still, the risk for medical errors during biopsies can be high. When victims die or suffer from a cancer that could have reasonably been detected earlier, they or their surviving family can consult with a lawyer about filing a medical malpractice claim. Such claims can end in multimillion-dollar settlements, so it's important to have legal representation. The lawyer can request an inquiry with the local medical board and bring in experts to find proof of malpractice.

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