Piezoelectric needle sensor reveals mechanical heterogeneity in human thyroid tissue lesions.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-45730-x
Palpable thyroid lesions are common, and although mostly benign, lethal malignant nodules do occur and may be difficult to differentiate. Here, we introduce the use of a piezoelectric system called Smart-touch fine needle (or STFN) mounted directly onto conventional biopsy needles, to evaluate abnormal tissues, through quantitative real-time measurements of variations in tissue stiffness as the needle penetrates tissue. Using well-characterized biomaterials of known stiffness and explanted animal tissue models, we first established experimental protocols for STFN measures on biological tissues, as well as optimized device design for high signal-to-noise ratio. Freshly excised patient thyroids with varying fibrotic and malignant potential revealed discrete variations in STFN based tissue stiffness/stiffness heterogeneity and correlated well with final histopathology. Our piezoelectric needle sensor reveals mechanical heterogeneity in thyroid tissue lesions and provides a foundation for the design of hand-held tools for the rapid, mechano-profiling of malignant lesions in vivo while performing fine needle aspiration (FNA).