Cryotherapy: freezing the tumour to eliminate it, six people treated at the Rizzoli in Bologna
Freezing the tumour: cryotherapy has been used for the first time in Italy to treat desmoid fibromatosis
Cryotherapy: freezing a tumour, in the true sense of the word, to stop it and make it disappear
This is the new technique studied and implemented at the Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute in Bologna, used for the first time to treat six patients suffering from desmoid fibromatosis.
This is a rare benign tumour that grows aggressively in the tissues, generating large masses that cause severe pain, compression of internal organs and motor difficulties.
If treated surgically, this disease has a very high chance of recurrence.
It is treated with cryotherapy, which stops the growth of the tumour but does not eliminate it, leaving the mass and the pain it causes in its place
Hence the idea developed at Rizzoli to freeze the tumour with cryotherapy: one or more needles, each freezing an area of about 3 centimetres, are inserted into the tumour mass and the gas injected freezes the tumour, preventing it from continuing to feed.
The mass then necrotizes and shrinks until it disappears.
The technique has already been tested in the United States and France, but Rizzoli is the first centre in Italy to use it on desmoid fibromatosis, thanks to a clinical study by Costantino Errani of the Orthopaedic Oncology Clinic, together with Giancarlo Facchini of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology.
With this technique, Errani explains, “we treated the first person in July 2020 and one year on we can say that the results are amazing.
The patient, a 39-year-old man who suffered from debilitating pain in the area of the tumour growth, is now well and the mass has almost disappeared.
This is thanks to just one session of cryotherapy
Every year there are around 150 cases of desmoid fibromatosis, which particularly affects the 18-35 age group, especially women of childbearing age.
“It is a rare and benign tumour, but unfortunately it can be highly disabling,’ Errani explains. ‘I have seen patients with severe motor difficulties, difficulty even standing up for short periods and suffering from constant pain.
Until now, when the situation is serious and it is necessary to intervene, the best option has been low-dose chemotherapy, but this therapy does not lead to the disappearance of the mass but can only stop the disease from progressing.
Surgical removal of the tumour is not usually recommended because the risks of a more aggressive recurrence are very high.
The first six patients treated with cryotherapy are now doing well and their symptoms have also improved.
“Offering patients not only a valid alternative to an aggressive or invasive treatment, but above all a more effective technique is what every doctor wants for his own patients – underlines Rizzoli’s general director, Anselmo Campagna – for those suffering from desmoid fibromatosis, Rizzoli is now able to do so.
Believing in the high potential of interventional radiology, thanks also to the support of the Emilia-Romagna Region, with an investment of more than two million euros Rizzoli will equip itself with a new state-of-the-art equipment that will allow a wider range of action in the treatment of our patients and the possibility to guarantee highly advanced services and techniques, including cryotherapy, thermoablation with radiofrequency, needle biopsies, under angiographic guidance and CT”.