At Vascular & Interventional Physicians, we offer state-of-the-art minimally invasive treatments for a variety of cancers including:
- Primary or metastatic (colon, breast) Liver Cancer
- Primary or metastatic Lung Cancer
- Kidney Cancer (Renal Cell Carcinoma)
- Painful Spine Fractures and Painful Bone Metastases
For patients with small or only a fewer tumors, Radiofrequency Ablation is also an option to kill off the tumors. This technique involves no surgery and only an overnight hospital stay. Under imaging guidance (CT scan or Ultrasound), one of the physicians from Vascular & Interventional Physicians will insert a needle through the skin into the tumor. Once it is in place, the needle will "cook" the tumor to a very high temperature until all the tumor cells are destroyed. At the end, the needle will be removed and a dressing applied.
For most tumors, this technique has a 70-90% chance of killing off the entire tumor in just one session. Side effects are minimal with most patients back to full activity within a few days of treatment if not immediately.
In patients with primary or metastatic liver tumors, chemoembolization offers an alternative to patients who cannot undergo surgery. This procedure involves no cutting or stitches and patients often leave the hospital after one night of observation.
A catheter (small tube) is introduced into the arteries supplying the tumor(s) in the liver from an artery in the upper thigh under x-ray guidance. Once in place, very high dose chemotherapy loaded onto near-microscopic particles is delivered under x-ray guidance into the tumors. This allows for two methods of killing the tumor: 1) the particles slow down the blood supply to the tumor, starving it off oxygen which helps kill the tumor 2) the chemotherapy is a much higher dose than could safely be given through a conventional IV and allows for greater tumor kill. Because the chemotherapy is given directly into the tumor gradually the side effects are much less. Most patients feel little of the nausea, low blood counts and hair loss associated with traditional chemotherapy.
Kidney Cancer (Renal Cell Carcinoma)
At Vascular & Interventional Physicians, we are the only physicians in the state of Maine that offer expertise in a non-surgical minimally invasive therapy for kidney cancers. Cryoablation is a method of killing kidney tumors by freezing them. This technique is done without cutting, stitches with little to no recovery time. Under CT scan guidance, we place a needle through the skin into the tumor in the kidney. Once in place, the freezing begins. This procedure is not painful and is performed with moderate sedation. After the freezing is complete, the patient is observed for one night in the hospital and then goes home. There is no recovery period, with most patients resuming full activity within 1 to 2 days. Usually no pain medications are required after the procedure.
Studies so far indicate similar efficacy to traditional surgery for the treatment of small kidney tumors.
For patients with non-small cell lung cancers, surgery offers the best option for cure. However, due to lung function, many patients are not surgical candidates. In these patients, the options are limited. Radiation therapy has been offered as the traditional method of treating these patients. Radiofrequency Ablation is a newer technique for the treatment of these tumors. Vascular & Interventional Physicians are the only doctors who are specifically trained and perform this particular treatment in the state of Maine.
In select patients with small peripheral tumors, a doctor from Vascular & Interventional Physicians will insert a needle through the skin into the tumor under CT guidance. Once in place, the tumor will be "cooked" to a very high temperature to kill off all the tumor cells. Afterwards, the patient will be observed in the hospital for a usually 1 night. No surgery is involved, no stitches are needed.
For patients with metastatic lung cancer, traditional chemotherapy is the usual method of treatment sometimes along with surgery to remove these tumors. In identical fashion, Radiofrequency Ablation can be performed to treat these tumors selectively and in a non-surgical manner.
Painful Bone Metastases
Cancers that spread to the bone can cause severe pain and poor quality of life to many patients with advanced cancers. This can result in the need for narcotic medications, loss of sleep, fractures of the bone and decreased mobility. Our goal at Vascular & Interventional Physicians is to restore the quality of life by alleviating the pain from these tumors.
Spine Compression Fractures
Depending on the location and involvement of the bone, we offer several modalities to treat the pain. Most commonly this will involve injection of a bone-grade cement called "vertebroplasty"- if this is performed in the spine, or “osteoplasty” – if this is performed in another type of bone.
This is done without surgery on an outpatient basis. A needle is introduced into the affected bone under CT scan guidance or X-ray guidance. A bone-grade cement is then introduced slowly. As the cement sets it does two things: 1) it heats up as it sets with soothes the irritated nerve endings from the tumor 2) it stabilizes the bone to prevent further fractures.
Most patients experience significant pain relief within 24-48 hours of treatment and this pain relief is durable.
In other patients, "freezing" the affected bone offers significant pain relief. No surgery is involved and this procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. Under CT scan guidance, a needle is introduced into the affected bone. Once in place, the tumor is frozen which kills the tumor and also soothes the inflamed nerve endings along the bone that are irritated. Most patient experience significant and durable pain relief within 48 hours of treatment.
Radiofrequency ablation of tumors is a new technique being used by interventional radiologists to destroy cancer deposits deep in the body without invasive surgery. A thin needle is placed into a tumor using ultrasound guidance. Electromagnetic energy is emitted from the needle destroying the cancer. This technique is only used for relatively small tumors in certain organs. We use these methods to treat tumors of the liver, kidney and lung, most commonly. Cryotherapy is used to freeze tumors, using imaging guidance.
(Left) RFA probe entering a liver tumor. (Center) Energy-emitting tines emerge from the probe, inside the tumor. (Right) 3d Heat energy killing the tumor.
Under mild IV sedation, using local anesthesia, a needle is painlessly advanced into the fractured vertebral body. This is done under fluoroscopic guidance. Next, a small amount of X-ray dye may be injected to confirm the position of the needle. Finally, a quick setting sterile bone cement is injected, stabilizing the fracture and relieving the pain.
Vertebroplasty can eliminate the need for prolonged bed rest and narcotics after trauma. Patients suffering from persisting debilitating pain often can "get their life back." Vertebroplasty is highly effective, and extremely safe. There's a less than 1 % incidence of serious complications.
Kyphoplasty is a similar procedure where balloons are inflated inside compressed vertebra prior to cement injection to attempt to restore some lost height. It also is very effective and safe
Sacroplaty is a cement injection into the sacrum (the bone joining the spine to the pelvis) under CT guidance. Fractures of the sacrum are also usually caused by osteoporosis, and can cause excruciating pain when standing or sitting. Painful sacral fractures may be stabilized instantly with sacroplasty.
Bone cement (white material) is injected into a fractured sacrum with two needles, using CT scan guidance.
How are these procedures performed?
These procedures are performed under imaging guidance (CAT scan, ultrasound, or x-ray) to allow accurate treatment of the tumor or fracture without harming adjacent structures.
What is the usual recovery time?
Depending on the type of procedure, recovery ranges from 1 day to 1 week before patients are back to full activity. Hospital stays range from zero days (outpatient procedure) to usually 1 or 2 nights.
Are these treatments effective?
For some of these treatments, they are reserved for patients who cannot tolerate surgery. For others, they are believed to be equal to surgery and for others. Please talk to your oncologist who can then arrange a consultation with us if needed to discuss these potential treatments.
How much experience does your group have with these treatments?
At Vascular & Interventional Physicians, we pride ourselves on offering the latest in minimally invasive care for the cancer patient. Our physicians have received extensive training in performing image-guided cancer treatments at the leading institutions in the country.
We are the first in the state to:
- perform CT-guided lung RFA for primary and metastatic lung cancers
- perform CT-guided kidney cryoablation for renal cell carcinoma
- utilize drug-eluting bead technology for chemoembolization
- use cryotherapy to help alleviate bone pain.
We work closely with our oncology colleagues to ensure our patients receive the optimal level of care that they need.
Did You Know? We treat varicose veins and spider veins? Varicose veins are swollen veins which protrude in a rope-like manner under the skin. Normal veins, by virtue of one-way valves, channel blood against gravity up the leg and back to the heart. When a valve becomes defective, it allows blood flow to leak back down the leg resulting in congestion and swelling of the vein. This is a medical condition called Venous Insufficiency.