London Doctors 2 : 0 Tumours

M@
By M@ Last edited 113 months ago
London Doctors 2 : 0 Tumours

A couple of medical marvels to warm your cockles on this cold winter's afternoon. First, over to Great Ormond Street Hospital, where a team of surgeons used a 'glue gun' to save the life of a newlyborn. When baby Madison came into this world with a swollen head, doctors suspected a brain tumour. But how do you operate on a week-old baby without serious risk? Rather than attempting to remove the tumour, or blast it with radiation, doctors inserted a tube into Madison's brain and used a surgical glue to gunk up the blood vessels feeding the tumour. Early indications suggest that the growth is now more of a shrinkth, and Madison is 'doing well'. The technique has been used before, but never in one so young.

Cyberknife.jpg
No, Mr Bond, I expect you to live.

Meanwhile, over in Harley Street, they're playing with knives in the fight against tumours. The cyberknife is a robotic tool to complement and improve on existing radiotherapy techniques. It contains no blade, but comprises a high-precision source of radiation mounted on the kind of robotic arm more commonly associated with car manufacture. The arm minutely adjusts the direction of the beam to compensate for movement in the patient, which helps score a bulls-eye on the tumour. This precision makes the bionic appendage ideal for reaching the parts other therapies cannot reach, and greatly reducing the number of sessions needed. From February, the treatment will be available privately (at a cost of £25,000 - ouch), but could debut on the NHS when the pleb patients promise not to make predictable Dr Who jokes soon.

Image courtesy of Dave Bullock / eecue, reproduced under a Creative Commons license. Flickr.

Last Updated 30 December 2008