Ontario Research Fund awarded to Cancer Researchers at Queen’s Perk Lab

Dr. Gabor Fichtinger and his PERK team look to improve breast cancer surgery outcomes
August 30, 2016

Dr. Gabor Fichtinger (Queen’s School of Computing and Research Chair in Cancer Imaging, Cancer Care Ontario) heads up the PERK LAB 

Sophie Kiwala, MPP for Kingston and the Islands recently announced that some cutting edge cancer research would receive financial support through the Ontario Research Fund (ORF) Infrastructure Award. The announcement was made during her tour of the Queen’s Laboratory for Percutaneous Surgery or, as the research team calls it, the “PERK LAB”. 

Dr. Gabor Fichtinger the Director, Queen’s School of Computing and Research Chair in Cancer Imaging, Cancer Care Ontario, heads up the PERK LAB which received $358,342 for its work on the Navigated iKnife System used in breast cancer surgery. This team is working on computer programming that will improve the accuracy of tumor removal by providing surgeons with GPS like feedback in real time. 

Sophie Kiwala tours the perk lab at Queens

Jay Engel, MD, Head of Surgical Oncology and Tamas Ungi MD, PhD, Adjunct Assistant Professor demonstrate the breast cancer surgery navigation system developed at Queen’s for Ms. Kiwala. (Photo courtesy of Queen’s University Communications)  

“The long standing partnership with the School of Computing and the Department of Surgery has allowed us to harness the power of modern informatics to transcend human limitations in surgery,” said Dr. Fichtinger. “With our core partners Dr. Jay Engel, Head of Surgical Oncology and Dr. John Rudan, Head of the Department of Surgery we aim to make surgical procedures more accurate, more consistent and less invasive; ultimately to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs.”

The Navigated iKnife is a computer-assisted surgical navigation system that works with live ultrasound imaging to create a surgical map for breast tumor removal. It includes the use of real-time mass spectrometry analysis, that can tell the difference between healthy and cancerous tissue at the tip of the surgical tool as the tissue is being cut. Combining real-time spatial navigation and tissue analysis, the surgeon can guarantee that the entire cancer is removed while preserving healthy breast tissue.

“With more accurate assessment of tumour margins in breast surgery, there is a potential advantage in reducing the need for repeat operations,” says Elizabeth Eisenhauer, Cancer Program Medical Director at Kingston General Hospital and Head of Department of Oncology at Queen’s. “We are so fortunate that our partnership with Queen’s means that the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario has access to cutting edge research like this, as well as new surgical tools that will improve quality of care for patients.”

There will be two operating Navigated iKnife(s) in use for qualifying cancer centre surgeries by the end of this year.

Want to know more about the Navigated iKnife and how it works?
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