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Miniature solutions, huge impact

Why do some of cancer care’s biggest advances come in miniature form? The answer comes from a technology built on nothing.


When people face serious illness, the last thing they need is worry that the cure will be worse than the ailment. Miniaturization helps to minimize this concern for patients facing cancer-related surgery. This advance in diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment draws on engineering principles and problem-solving strategies that are adapted to biomedical needs and healthcare objectives. The pioneering approach to cancer care has reduced the need for surgery, made operations less invasive, and as a result minimized surgical impact on the body.

Miniaturized instruments have had an especially notable impact in the advent of vacuum-assisted biopsy, an advanced method of obtaining tissue samples for testing. The process uses an instrument known to medical specialists as a fenestrated cannula; in lay terminology, that’s a needle-thin perforated tube that uses vacuum suction to extract tissue for examination. Vacuum technology has also made radiation based on photon therapy possible: vacuums are responsible for bundling and transporting the rays. Bio and life science instruments that depend on stable vacuum operation at low ambient noise include mass spectrometers and electron microscopes. The technology is impressive. But the greatest advance is not reducing the size of the instruments, but rather increasing the patients’ peace of mind.

These achievements (among many others) and the technologies that brought them to fruition could not exist without the inclusion of a vacuum component in their production processes. Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum continues to partner on innovative projects in the field of medical devices.

By Randy B. Hecht

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