ROSSLYN, Va., April 16, 1997---A year after doctors gave up on William Hines, his kidney tumor is gone and his life is back to normal. Hines is one of seven patients to undergo an experimental procedure that has brought magnetic resonance imaging into the operating room.
Hines, mayor of North Canton, Ohio, took part in a Phase I clinical trail being conducted at Case Western Reserve University under the direction of Jonathan Lewin, M.D. It is a safety and feasibility study focusing on patients with isolated kidney tumors smaller than a tennis ball and no other hope.
In the procedure, Lewin inserts a probe resembling a hypodermic needle into the patients abdomen. He guides the tip of the probe into the heart of the tumor using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques designed in the laboratory of biomedical engineer Jeffrey Duerk, Ph.D.
The probe emits radio waves that heat and kill tumor cells. Watching the MRI video monitor, doctors can adjust the instrument to reach all parts of the malignancy while avoiding healthy tissue. As the physicians work, they can actually see the tumor die.
Hines' previous surgeries had sidelined him for weeks at a time. After repeated trips to the operating room, doctors said there was nothing more they could do. For the experimental procedure, he rested for one night in the hospital and returned to work in two days.
Since then, six other patients have followed. Disease progression was stopped in two patients and slowed in two others. A fifth continues to spawn new tumors, which are being treated. The sixth and most recent patient is doing well, but it is still early.
Duerk and Lewin are presenting their scientific methods and clinical results this week at the Fifth Scientific Meeting and Exhibition of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine in Vancouver, British Columbia.