Israel’s Galil says test case confirms viability of its cancer procedure

Galil’s freezing technology eliminates the need for surgery, reduces risk and shortens recovery times in treating kidney and prostate cancers.Physicians at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville destroyed a cancer tumor in the remaining kidney of a 64 …

Galil’s freezing technology eliminates the need for surgery, reduces risk and shortens recovery times in treating kidney and prostate cancers.Physicians at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville destroyed a cancer tumor in the remaining kidney of a 64 year-old man without making a single incision, using an innovative system designed in Israel by Galil Medical Ltd.

The minimally invasive, first-ever procedure of its kind used cryotherapy, the use of freezing in medical therapy, took less than 55 minutes, and produced no complications.

In cryotherapy, tumors are frozen to death by strategically placed probes. The procedure has gained particular acceptance as a treatment for prostate cancer. But the new ultra-thin needle probes from Galil Medical, based in Yokneam, Israel, enable the technology to go where larger conventional probes cannot, allowing for more delicate procedures, such as those involving kidney cancers.

In the Virginia procedure, Urologist Dan Theodorescu and radiologist Matthew Bassignani froze the tumor with ultra-thin needle probes inserted directly through the skin using Galil’s technology. The hospital’s radiologists then used ultrasound to guide the needles to the tumor, and a special template aligned and held the needles in place through two cycles of freezing and thawing the tumor, which completely destroyed it.

“These small (needles) make this type of surgery possible,” Theodorescu said. “Large conventional probes would be difficult to insert (under the skin) and to direct into the kidney as well as control during the freezing process.”

The ultra-thin needles serve another important role by freezing the tumor completely, said Galil President and Chief Executive Officer James McGlone. McGlone compares the freeze area using the company’s method to a can filled with sand as opposed to a can filled with marbles.

“You can imagine how the can filled with marbles would leave pockets of unfrozen areas, while the sand-filled can would have a consistent freeze throughout,” McGlone said. “The ultra-thin needles create smaller ice balls that can fill more of the space, so they provide a wonderful technological advantage — for both kidney and prostate cancer (destruction).”

Theodorescu removed the patient’s right kidney more than a year ago to eradicate a large cancer. When a CAT scan showed a small tumor in the left kidney two months ago, surgical removal seemed to be the only option. But the risk of losing the remaining kidney during surgery, and the patient’s strong desire to avoid another surgery, led to the team choosing the procedure using the Galil system.

Patients who undergo the procedure can leave the hospital the same day and expect a short recuperation period, versus those whose tumors are removed through conventional surgery, which would require a week’s stay in the hospital and six weeks of recuperation at home.

“Our technology performed exactly as we expected,” said Yan Moore, medical director at Galil. “We believe we have opened a new frontier for cryosurgery – one that will improve quality of life for patients and reduce health care costs.”

Theodorescu said patients who have small tumors that can be viewed clearly by ultrasound are the best candidates for the procedure. He said patient selection is the key to success and that he has already has scheduled several more procedures with other patients with similar tumors.