Health Beat

Health Beat: Ablation saves man's kidney

HOUSTON - Ryan Anguiano got the scare of his life when he went to the doctor with what he thought was colitis.

"He saw something on my kidney and, more than likely, 60 percent chance, that it was gonna be cancer, and he needed to take part of my kidney, or my whole kidney out," Anguiano said.

That's when Anguiano's wife stepped in.

"My wife says we should probably seek a second opinion before we move forward with this," Anguiano explained.

That second opinion saved Anguiano's kidney.

"I can perform the ablation, and after we're done, I can tell the patient the tumor is gone," said Dr. Justin Muhlenberg, an interventional radiologist at M & S Radiology Associates.

How does ablation work?

"It's a needle or a probe that you can insert into a tumor, and you can turn the probe on and it delivers enough heat, causing destruction of tissue around the tip of the probe," Muhlenberg said.

CT scans and ultrasound imaging help guide the probe, which uses microwave energy to heat the tumor, destroying it. Saline solution keeps it cool.

"We can slowly guide the needle directly into the tumor," Muhlenberg said. "As we turn on the microwave generator, we see that slowly the tissue gets destroyed. What's going to be left there at the end of the process is just a scar."

That was a sweet post-op surprise for Anguiano.

"I was sitting there thinking I was all bandaged up and I rolled over and asked, 'How bad is it,' and my wife said, 'You have a Band-Aid. It looks like a paper cut," Anguiano said.

It's the only visible sign of Anguiano's battle with a kidney tumor.

Anguiano was fortunate. His tumor was benign. He's back to feeling himself and looking forward to walking his daughters down the aisle with both kidneys intact. 

Muhlenberg said with new improvements to the technology, interventional radiologists are able to treat larger zones and destroy more abnormal tissue.

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