Bone tumour cases treated without surgery

Karachi: For the first time in Pakistan, radiologists at the Aga Khan University Hospital successfully have treated a bone tumour (non-cancerous) without surgery using a procedure called radiofrequency ablation (RFA). The procedure was performed on 24-year-old Bilal in May and follow-up visits confirm that the patient’s symptoms have completely disappeared.

Narrating his case, Bilal, an aviator and a resident of Sargodha, said that he had suffered from leg pain for nearly eight months when he was finally diagnosed with osteoid osteoma – a harmless but painful bone tumour commonly found in young patients.

“As soon as I found out, I started to research online on how to cure it and also visited different doctors,” he says.

Bilal discovered that while locally the usual mode of treatment is open surgery – associated with a high risk of complications and a longer recovery period – internationally the method of choice is radiofrequency ablation, which is safe, quick, minimally-invasive and give better results compared to surgery.

Unfortunately for Bilal, no hospital offered RFA for benign tumour of bones at that time. After extensive research, he approached an interventional radiologist at the Radiology Department of AKUH.

“Bilal comes from an educated background and after much search on osteoid osteoma and treatment options he came to us,” says Dr Basit Salam, Consultant Interventional Radiologist, Department of Radiology, AKUH, who agreed to conduct the procedure.

In May, Bilal came in and underwent RFA in the CT suite.

After the tumour was localised with the CT scanner, a needle was inserted at the site of the tumour and a hole drilled in the bone, explains Dr Basit.

“We placed a RFA needle called an electrode inside the lesion, and destroyed it in about six minutes,” he adds.

“The procedure was uneventful and the patient was discharged the same day,” says a satisfied Dr Basit.

Sharing his experience, Bilal says, “I am relieved that I can now move with ease. The pain was unbearable and affecting my quality of life. I had to take medicine along with me wherever I used to go. It was a constant pressure on my mind.”

“I am grateful to God and the AKUH team for helping me to have a painless balanced life back. Now I am pain free since a month and driving, walking, doing all normal routine work.”

Since May 2013 the RFA facility is available at AKUH, which obviates the need for surgery in many cases. A similar type of technique is also available for tumours found in the liver, kidney and lungs.

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