Ingalls Doctors Put the ‘Deep Freeze’ on Tumors and Save Patient’s Kidneys

A diagnosis of kidney cancer came out of left field for 34-year-old mike Baiker of montgomery. Barely sick a day in his life, the robust father of three was stunned when he received the bad news in late 2007.

As he struggled to make sense of it, Baiker was hit with another curveball. His doctor told him the only viable treatment option involved removal of both kidneys, followed by grueling dialysis treatments and a lengthy wait on a kidney transplant list.

The cancer was bad enough, Baiker thought, but the treatment would be unbearable.

“As a paramedic for Trace Ambulance, I’ve transported dialysis patients to treatment for 15 years. I have three kids to support, and my fiancé has three kids. There was no way I could be hooked up to a machine three days a week for the rest of my life. I was very depressed.”

“The standard treatment for kidney cancer is removal of the whole kidney or the tumor,” board-certified urologist rajesh Patel, M.D., explained.

But to Baiker’s relief, Dr. Patel told him he was a candidate for cryoablation, a highly advanced and targeted form of cancer treatment that involves “freezing” the tumor to destroy the cancer. Instead of removing the kidneys, Dr. Patel would target just the tumors.

Most patients are able to go home the next day and experience little or no pain, fewer complications and a quicker overall recovery.

“I was in such a great mood when I left Dr. Patel’s office,” Baiker said. “For the first time, I had hope.”

Baiker underwent cryoablation of both kidney tumors at Ingalls in 2008. He went home the next day with his kidneys intact and resumed work in a week.

Several months later, a follow-up CT scan showed traces of remaining cancer on the left kidney. A second cryoablation procedure on that kidney would be necessary.

Because the remaining tumor was located near critical kidney structures, Dr. Patel called on the expertise of board-certified interventional radiologist Thomas Aquisto, M.D.

For the follow-up procedure, Dr. Aquisto recommended highly detailed CT-guided imaging to help visualize and target the cancerous mass with maximum precision to spare as much kidney and kidney function as possible.

So in January of this year, Dr. Aquisto successfully performed CT-guided cryoablation on Baiker’s left kidney, removing the remainder of the cancerous tumor while preserving the kidney and its overall function. Baiker felt so good after the procedure, he went home the very same day. Several months later, a repeat CT scan showed no evidence of cancer on either kidney.

“Patients benefit when physicians collaborate on complicated cases like this one,” Dr. Aquisto said.

“We are very pleased with the results,” Dr. Patel added. Baiker is too.

“I’m healthy. I’m working, and I don’t have to worry about other treatments,” he said. “my family and I are so grateful to Dr. Patel and Dr. Aquisto. They gave me my life back.”

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