New device allows for skin biopsies in under five minutes without anesthetic

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The newly-patented automatic biopsy device can grab a tissue sample with a simple click of a button (Photo: UC3M)(Credit: UC3M)

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Researchers at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and the Institute Ramón y Cajal for Health Research (IRYCIS) have created a new device that significantly cuts down the time required to perform a skin biopsy. It doesn't require any specialized skills to use, and could open the door to faster skin cancer diagnoses.

The current method of performing a skin biopsy involves manually cutting out a layer of skin and carefully removing it, before sewing up the small incision. Not only is this a time-consuming process, but it also requires significant skill to complete.

The newly patented automatic biopsy device streamlines things significantly, grabbing a sample with a simple press of a button. The doctor places the device on the patient's skin, pushes down on the button at the top, with the mechanism then automatically cutting and collecting the tissue sample. The process does not require local anesthesia, and takes just a few minutes to complete – a huge improvement over the 25-30 minutes required for the traditional method.

Non-melanoma skin cancers are very common, with more than 100,000 cases registered in the UK alone in 2011. Furthermore, cases of malignant melanoma – a much more dangerous form of skin cancer – were diagnosed in more than 100,000 patients worldwide in 2012.

The research team believes that the new device will prove a powerful tool in the early detection of such skin diseases, allowing doctors to see a greater volume of patients. This would in turn lead to a higher chance of early detection, giving patients the best chance of successfully tackling the disease.

For more on the new device, you can check out the video below.

Source: UC3M

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