Chapel Hill, N.C. — Urologic surgeons at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill have started using special imaging to help them with the removal of cancerous tumors of the kidneys, which can be difficult to see.
The patient is injected with a special near-infrared which makes everything inside the body glow except for the tumor.
'The fluorescent imaging allows us to demarcate the tumor accurately in order to excise all of the tumor," Dr. Mathew Raynor, a urologic surgeon at UNC, said.
It also helps doctors find vessels that supply blood only to the tumor.
"That way, we may be able to interrupt blood supply just to the tumor itself and leave the rest of the kidney with normal blood flow," Raynor said.
So far, UNC has only used this type of imaging with three patients. In each case, the surgery has been successful. Doctors say the added tool takes some of the guesswork out of the surgery and helps them preserve as much of the kidney as possible.
There are 60,000 cases of kidney cancer in the United States every year. About three-quarters of those are diagnosed using CT scans while doctors are looking for other problems that might cause a patient abdominal pain.
Early stages of the cancer might not have any symptoms, but blood in the urine could be a sign. Seeking medical care is recommended.