Argon used in novel surgery


The southern hemisphere’s first cryotherapy operation has been performed in New Zealand.

The operation was carried out in Tauranga in New Zealand by a team led by Dr Peter Gilling working alongside Dutch specialist Dr Brunolf Lagerveld on a man’s kidney tumours. The operation involved the tissue being frozen using argon gas at minus 40 degrees centigrade, followed by a burst of helium gas to thaw it before a second round of argon was applied to the tumour.

The freeze, thaw, freeze cycle damages the tumour cells, while the kidney remains fully functional meaning the patient, pensioner Jim Begley, suffered fewer complications and was able to recuperate quicker. Cryotherapy keeps invasive treatment for kidney tumours to a minimum, using long, ultra-thin needles to kill a tumour by freezing it with the gas.

Around 60 per cent of kidney tumours are discovered coincidentally during scans for other ailments and about 20 per cent of those are benign. In about 40 per cent of cryotherapy operations, the tumour disappears completely and in the rest it shrank and became benign.

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