Keck Medical Center of the University of Southern California (USC) has become the first medical center in the world to use a new robotic technology in an outpatient procedure for a patient with kidney cancer. Urologic surgeons at the USC Institute of Urology, part of Keck Medicine of USC, used a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-cleared laparoscopic device, the high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) surgical ablation system for ablating intra-abdominal tumors. The system enables surgeons to penetrate the abdominal cavity with keyhole cuts to eliminate tumors of 4 cm or less.
Inderbir Gill, MD, Founding Executive Director, USC Institute of Urology, and Chairman and Professor, Catherine and Joseph Aresty Department of Urology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, performed the surgery on a 62-year-old Van Nuys resident, who went home the same day, 3 to 4 days earlier than patients typically experience with kidney cancer surgery.
“Using a focused beam of ultrasound directly on the tumor and minimally invasive surgery, we destroyed the tumor without surgically removing it from the body,” Dr. Gill said. “The most important aspects of this technology are the reduced trauma to the patient and the ability to save the kidney, without the tumor, for a healthier lifestyle post-surgery. This surgery offers fewer chances for infection and post-operative complications. Our goal is to save as much of the good kidney as possible and help patients return to a normal lifestyle quickly.”
Procedure an Option for Tumors 4 cm or Smaller
High-intensity focused ultrasound surgery is an option for patients whose tumors are 4 cm or less which accounts for about 10% of all kidney tumors, Dr. Gill said. Although this surgery was on a kidney, the surgery may also be an option for cancer of the prostate, liver, pancreas, and other organs, he noted.
Most kidney tumors are discovered when they are small and the patient is not experiencing symptoms. Although traditional surgery is an effective remedy, the risk of complications from such surgery can be daunting. Of 12 patients in the United Kingdom who participated in a 2011 proof-of-concept study of high-intensity focused ultrasound for kidney tumors, seven were cancer-free after 24 months. ■