SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Doctors at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center are now using extreme cold to kill small kidney tumors without damaging the rest of the organ, according to a new release provided to WBTV.
Called cryoablation therapy, the procedure uses very thin needles, inserted into the kidney through the skin, to deliver the therapy directly to the site of the tumor. Argon gas is circulated through closed metal needles to create freezing temperatures and form ice, which the doctor then shapes around the tumor to destroy it. Studies show the procedure is 92-98 percent effective in treating cancerous tumors.
"Cryoablation allows us to use the most advanced technology to treat kidney tumors in a minimally invasive fashion," says Paul Capito, MD, an interventional radiologist with Rowan Medical Center who is pioneering the technique at the hospital. "Not only is it extremely safe, but because it's performed without an incision, patients experience minimal bleeding, shorter recovery periods and a much lower risk of infection."
Previous treatment methods included radiofrequency ablation (RFA), which uses heat to destroy the tumor, or surgically removing part or all of a diseased kidney. However, RFA can cause more damage to surrounding healthy kidney tissue than cryoablation, and open surgeries require longer hospital stays and recovery periods. Cryoablation, on the other hand, can often be performed in an outpatient setting, or with just a one-night hospital stay, with patients returning to normal activities in one to two days. In comparison, a traditional kidney surgery generally requires several days' hospitalization, along with a one- to two-week recovery at home.
Not all tumors are candidates for this treatment option. Ideally, tumors treated with cryoablation are typically smaller than 4 cm and located within the kidney. Patients must be referred by a urologist, and the procedure is usually covered by insurance.
In addition to lower complication risks, cryoablation also offers the added benefit of allowing patients to keep a kidney that is predominantly healthy rather than discarding it due to a very small tumor.