Interventional Radiology and Nuclear Medicine

Interventional Radiology and Nuclear Medicine Treatment at St. Luke's

Minimally-Invasive Cancer Treatments

Certain cancers of the kidney, liver, and lung may be treated without open surgical incisions in the Interventional Radiology Department at St. Luke's University Hospital - Bethlehem Campus.


Percutaneous Image-Guided Cryoablation

Percutaneous Image-Guided Cryoablation is a freezing process used to destroy solid tumors of the kidney and liver. It is performed with ultrathin cryoablation needles that can be precisely placed with image guidance. Once the needles are placed, tumors are destroyed though a double-freeze thaw process.

To freeze the tumor, argon gas is delivered under pressure into a small chamber inside the tip of the needle where it expands and cools, reaching a temperature well below -100 degrees Celsius. This produces an ice ball of predictable size and shape around the needle. The lethal ice ball engulfs the tumor, killing the cancerous cells as well as a small margin of surrounding tissue.

Physicians are able to make adjustments during the procedure to make sure the tumor is completely destroyed and ensure surrounding healthy tissue is unharmed.


Percutaneous Radio Frequency Ablation

This technique, which essentially microwaves a tumor, is being used to treat kidney, liver and lung cancer. This least invasive radiofrequency ablation technique uses needles and thermal sensors that are inserted though the skin and precisely positioned in the tumor using CT or ultrasound. The radiofrequency waves increase in temperature within the tumor resulting in destruction of the tumor.

Light sedation and local anesthesia may be used for these percutaneous ablation procedures and patients may be discharged the same day. Studies show that patients undergoing minimally invasive procedures recover more quickly and report minimal pain during and after the procedure. The risk of certain complications, such as excessive bleeding, is less than that of open surgery, and patients can return to normal activities sooner.

Interventional radiologist Michael Ringold, MD, is performing these procedures. In treating renal cancers, Dr. Ringold works with urologists Eric Mayer, MD and Frank Tamarkin of St. Luke's Center for Urology.


Alcohol Injections

Radiologists use alcohol injections to kill cells in inoperable tumors.


Chemoembolization

Chemoembolization involves injecting chemotherapy directly into the tumor’s blood supply. Radiologists use chemoembolization when removal of an entire liver tumor is not possible.


Image-Guided Surgery

The surgeon uses radioactive compounds to help locate parathyroid tumors.


Radioimmunotherapy

Radioimmunotherapy is a cancer treatment that combines antibodies with radiation. St. Luke’s Nuclear Medicine Department offers two radioimmunotherapy treatments for follicular, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma:

  • Bexxar
  • Zevalin

Some of the benefits of these radioimmunotherapy treatments include:

  • Both of these treatments are given in a single, short course of therapy.
  • Both give off an immune response to the cancer and deliver radiation to the tumor.
  • These treatments have excellent rates of full and lasting remissions in patients for whom other therapies have failed.

St. Luke’s was the first hospital in Pennsylvania to offer Bexxar as an FDA-approved, non-clinical trial treatment.


Selected Internal Radiation Therapy

Selected internal radiation therapy is a treatment for patients who have colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver and has failed to respond to chemotherapy. Selected internal radiation therapy is available through St. Luke’s Interventional Radiology Department and St. Luke’s Radiation Oncology Department.

During selected internal radiation therapy:

  • Physicians use X-rays to help them insert tiny radioactive spheres (SIR-Spheres) into the artery that supplies the liver tumor.
  • SIR-Spheres travel through the blood stream and into the growth.
  • Once the spheres are in the tumor, they destroy it.

SIR-Spheres:

  • Deliver much more radiation directly to the tumor than is possible with conventional external radiation.
  • Don’t harm most of the normal liver tissue.

This procedure usually is performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia.