UT Southwestern doctors use radiofrequency ablation to destroy kidney tumors without surgery

October 02, 2001

DALLAS - Oct. 2, 2001 - When David Rist, 62, was diagnosed with cancerous kidney tumors, he and his wife put plans for their lakeside retirement home on hold.

But thanks to a new nonsurgical technique offered at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Rist and his wife are again barreling ahead with plans for a dream house designed for gardening, boating and grandchildren.

Doctors at UT Southwestern killed a tumor on one of Rist's kidneys with radiofrequency ablation, which involved only a needle and a CAT scan. After a one-hour procedure at Zale Lipshy University Hospital, Rist was back home, cancer-free.

UT Southwestern is one of the first institutions nationwide to begin using radiofrequency ablation on kidney tumors. The procedure allows patients a shorter recovery time, less pain and a nonsurgical treatment option.

Rist, a retired pilot and Richardson resident, was diagnosed with tumors on both his kidneys in 2000. He had surgery to remove one kidney and the baseball-sized tumor growing on it Aug. 17, 2000. He has a 22-inch scar and some continued discomfort from the operation.

He initially chose a wait-and-see approach to treating the much-smaller tumor on his remaining kidney.

"Because of scar tissue from that operation, my options to treat the second tumor were limited," Rist said. "But I discussed it with my doctors and decided it was better to remove it. The simplicity of the tumor ablation procedure really appealed to me."

Dr. Jeffrey Cadeddu, an assistant professor of urology at UT Southwestern, performed the procedure.

"We are not removing the tumor, we are just killing it where it sits," said Cadeddu, head of UT Southwestern's urologic cancer treatment. "This really is the future of cancer treatment."

Using a needle with an end that opens to wrap around the tumor, Cadeddu applied radiofrequency to the tumor for about seven minutes at 105 degrees centigrade, essentially killing the tumor with heat.

After conducting a great deal of research on his options, Rist chose the radiofrequency ablation, which also has been used on liver tumors and bone cancer.

"We learned as much as we could and decided this procedure, while new, was the best option," he said. "I am really pleased."
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