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Using a new technology to shrink a cancerous lung tumor, BWH Thoracic Surgeon Raphael Bueno, MD, and a team of anesthetists, nurses, fellows and technicians, achieved a world first—one that enhances treatment of patients with lung cancer, the leading cancer cause of death in North America.
Bueno removed more than 90 percent of the patient’s tumor by delivering laser carbon dioxide energy through a new, flexible optical fiber, produced by Cambridge-based OmniGuide. Prior to the 90-minute procedure, the tumor had blocked the patient’s airway and most of the right lung, causing the patient difficulty breathing.
“The OmniGuide Fiber gives us a tremendous advantage in treating lung cancer patients, many of whom have limited options because of the sensitive locations of their tumors,” Bueno said following the Oct. 28 surgery.
Previous radiation standard laser resection and photodynamic therapy treatments brought no lasting success in reducing the patient’s tumor, said Bueno. Existing laser technologies were considered too risky for this patient because they can penetrate up to a centimeter beyond their placement, jeopardizing organs close to the tumor, including the heart, Bueno said.
The OmniGuide Fiber gave Bueno complete control over the laser, enabling him to clear the airway effectively and reduce the tumor to 10 percent of its size without affecting other organs. “This new technology gives the physician more control over tissue interaction and a very slim chance of error,” said Gil Shapira, director of Business Development for OmniGuide. “Because of its flexibility, it also gives surgeons access to otherwise inaccessible areas.”
Bueno first heard of the fiber technology two years ago at the CIMIT Annual Briefing, where he connected with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology professors who founded OmniGuide, a member of CIMIT’s Industry Liaison Program. Bueno realized that the fiber optic the professors presented could be applied to airway tumors and worked with them to benefit patients. This fiber technology allowed for the first time a carbon dioxide laser was delivered through a standard flexible bronchoscope.
Staff who participated in the operation include Avi Lebenthal, MD, Nick Sadovnikoff, MD, Sarah Wiser, MD, Amir Islami-Manuchehry, MD, Carol Miller, RN, Sharon Bouyer-Ferullo, RN, and Carol Belle, ST.