Date: 4/24/2008

Procedure puts the freeze on kidney cancer

EAST CHICAGO — St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago is the first to offer a breakthrough procedure that uses a minimally invasive technique to fight kidney cancer.

Ayoola Gomih, M.D., recently performed the procedure called cryoablation to treat and destroy renal tumors. The process involves freezing the tumor en route to eradicating it. By freezing the tumor, thawing it, and then freezing it again, the cancerous cells are destroyed.

“It’s another important tool that’s now available to fight this complicated and difficult disease,” said Jo Ann Birdzell, Administrator of St. Catherine Hospital.

Gomih uses the state-of-the-art SeedNet™ Gold cryosurgery system, which features ultra-thin CryoNeedles. The system is manufactured by Galil Medical.

CryoNeedles are 1.47 millimeters in diameter and much smaller than earlier cryotherapy equipment. This means the needles can be more precisely directed to the tumor. The needles generate precise-sized ice balls that deliver temperatures of minus-110 degrees Celsius to safely freeze and remove the diseased tissue while avoiding damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Cryoablation is ideal for destroying small tumors no larger than 4 centimeters and for patients whose health might preclude them from undergoing invasive nephrectomy, a removal of all or a portion of the kidney, according to Gomih.

“The philosophy more and more is that we’re trying to do less and less of invasive procedures yet achieve the same oncological success,” Gomih said. “When you surgically remove a tumor, the challenge is how far to cut. This is monitored in real time by imaging.”

Patients are placed under general anesthesia for the procedure. Minimal blood loss occurs during the procedure, another reason cryosurgery is touted for its safety, according to Gomih.

More than 32,000 Americans each year are diagnosed with kidney cancer. Kidney cancer is the eighth most common cancer in men and the 10th in women.

Gomih also uses cryoablation to treat prostate cancer. He performs prostate cryotherapy at both St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart.