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New software improves imaging for liver surgery

Liver surgery can be tricky. The organ is soft and wobbly, which means it can shift positions between the time when a liver tumor is imaged via a CT scan and when a doctor is viewing it during surgery. This can be dangerous when a surgeon is attempting to excise a tumor that is close to major blood vessels. However, scientists at Vanderbilt University have created software that could make liver surgery safer for patients in Pennsylvania and around the world.

During cancer surgery, surgeons can move an imaging stylus over the liver to map out its shape. They then use a computer to match the image with a CT scan that was taken before the surgery. This procedure improves surgical accuracy, but the mapping can still be off by a centimeter or more. The Vanderbilt scientists developed software that anticipates the forces that may move a liver during surgery, such as packing gauze, and alters the CT image accordingly.

The software was tested in a blind, randomized study of 20 liver surgery patients at New York's Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and researchers found that it improved organ imaging in 73 percent of cases. The software has already been released for use by surgeons.

Victims of surgical errors often suffer a worsened medical condition that might be difficult to stop. Patients who have been harmed in this manner during a procedure might want to meet with a medical malpractice attorney to see if there is any recourse available for seeking compensation for the resulting losses.

Source: Medical Xpress, "New tools help surgeons find liver tumors, not nick blood vessels", July 17, 2017

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