High-tech road map helps kill liver cancer

FRESNO, Calif.

Now a new technology is giving doctors directions to help kill a killer.

Richie Ruben has a passion for all things sports and he keeps it where he can see it, but what he didn't see coming was liver cancer.

"I thought actually it was a gall bladder problem," Richie Ruben told Action News.

It was a tumor. Surgery to remove it would be dangerous because of its location. So doctor William Jarnigan of Memorial Sloan-Kettering used an organ positioning system. Similar to a GPS, the OPS uses cameras instead of satellites as guidance.

"It's pretty much like the GPS system in your car where you can actually see the road, the route you are taking," William R. Jarnagin, M.D., FACS, chief of hepatopancreatobiliary service and director of the hepatobiliary fellowship program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, said.

Developed by engineers at Vanderbilt University the system uses an optical probe to safely enter the organ's surface

"Turns out in the process of presenting a liver for surgery, you deform it, you change its shape from what it looks like pre-operably," Dr. Michael Miga, an associate professor of biomedical engineering and co-founder of the Vanderbilt Initiative in Surgery and Engineering (VISE), said.

The 3D model makes it easier for surgeons to target unhealthy tissue and steer clear of healthy tissues.

"It allowed us to place the probe precisely and deliver the energy that needed to be delivered to kill the tumor," Dr. Jarnagin said.

Richie was out of the hospital in two days and back to work in two weeks cancer free.

"I feel great," Richie said laughing.

The OPS is currently being tested in hospitals across the U.S. Doctor Miga says if it continues to be a success, the device could create a bigger safety margin allowing doctors to perform more aggressive surgeries with much less risk.

If you would like more information, please contact:
Craig Boerner
National News Director
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
(615) 322-4747

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