Groote Schuur Hospital once again paves the way in being the first state hospital in the province to perform Microwave Ablation. File photo
Groote Schuur Hospital once again paves the way in being the first state hospital in the province to perform Microwave Ablation. File photo

Groote Schuur first state hospital in province to perform Microwave Ablation

By Robin-Lee Francke Time of article published Oct 26, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - Groote Schuur Hospital has become the first state hospital in the province to perform Microwave Ablation.

The technique is a minimally-invasive treatment to kill tumour cells. Microwave Ablation uses ultrasound, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging to guide placement of a needle-like probe into a tumour. It uses microwaves to heat and destroy the tumour.

It can also be used in lung cancer cases on primary and secondary tumours of a certain size if patients are unable to undergo surgery.

Consultant radiologist Dr Qonite Said-Hartley said the procedure was performed under computed tomography guidance using a microwave ablation machine.

She said the patient was given a general anaesthetic.

“The lung cancer is located using Computed Tomography scanning and then a special applicator attached to the microwave machine is inserted into the tumour. The microwaves are emitted via the machine into the tumour for a few minutes, depending on the size of the tumour and the frequency of the microwaves used,” Said-Hartley said.

The first patient this technique was used on was 68-year-old Gladys Ganief who had previously undergone lung resection because of lung cancer and had previously had renal cancer.

“The small right lung nodule on her follow-up Computed Tomography scan was getting bigger and was then biopsied, confirming a new lung cancer rather than spreading from the renal cancer. Unfortunately, the patient was not a surgical candidate because of reduced lung volume and function. which made for a good candidate for microwave ablation and the fact that the cancer was in the early stage,” Said-Hartley said.

Ganief said she would undergo this procedure any day because everything was much quicker. She said chest drains were not required and one did not need to stay in the intensive-care unit.

Said-Hartley said patient selection was important in this process and the multidisciplinary team was involved in the decision-making process once patients were referred.

Patients are admitted to the thoracic surgical ward on the day or the day before the procedure. The patient can be discharged the day after surgery if there are no complications.

“It is a privilege to have been able to perform this first-of-its-kind procedure because it allows for a relatively non-invasive form of treatment for patients who would not be able to tolerate surgery in the state sector. This is considered a first-world treatment and provides patients with a good quality of life and improved survival,” Said-Hartley said.

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