New Cutting-Edge Treatment for Kidney Cancer Now Available in Mason City

Now there is a minimally invasive procedure being offered at the Mason City Clinic, called cryoablation of the kidney, for small renal masses. The new procedure offers many kidney cancer patients a safer alternative with quicker recovery to more traditional surgical procedures. 

The new procedure performed by a urologist and radiologist inserts a probe into the kidney and freezes the mass, which melts away over time.  Patients recover quickly, usually going home the same day of the procedure. 

In this video, Urologist, Timothy Mulholland, MD, discusses renal masses, kidney cancer, and how cryoablation works.


Timothy L. Mulholland, MD:

We are the ones that see kidney cancer and it’s a fairly common type of cancer, and it’s almost all found incidentally, meaning it doesn’t cause symptoms. So we see anywhere from small lesions on the kidney to very large lesions on the kidney. Sometimes, unfortunately, it’s spread.

Typically, if we do some further imaging, obviously examine the patient and work through their medical history, and then determine if surgery would be needed to remove the mass or remove the whole kidney, and it really depends on the size of the mass, where in relation it is to the kidney. Sometimes small masses are right in the middle of the kidney so we need to remove the whole kidney to get them out. Sometimes they’re more peripheral and we can just remove part of them. Typically, we do those robotic assisted laparoscopic. Sometimes we have to do open procedures to get them out, depending on the situation.

Cryoablation of the kidney is a more minimally invasive approach where we put probes through the patient’s flank using guidance, either with CT or ultrasound, and we’re able to guide these probes into the mass and form an ice ball and freeze the mass, and then the mass will just melt away over time. And it’s an effective treatment for small renal masses that are of concern.

Typically, the procedures, with all the planning and different things that go into it, will be an hour, sometimes less, sometimes more, and recovery will be quicker. Eventually, most patients will go home the same day, and maybe just have a day or two downtime. If we have to do an open case or robotic partial nephrectomy or robotic nephrectomy, they’re in the hospital. A lot of times they can’t lift for four weeks, and there’s a little bit more of a recovery, so this won’t be right for every patient, but for a lot of patients they’ll just recover a lot quicker and it will take care of the mass.

Why Your Kidneys Are Important

Your kidneys work really hard for you

The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs located below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine. They are considered some of the most important organs in the body. The kidneys help remove waste products from the body, maintain balanced electrolyte levels, and regulate blood pressure. They remove acid that is produced by the cells of your body and maintain a healthy balance of water, salts, and minerals in your blood. Without this balance, nerves, muscles, and other tissues in your body may not work normally.

Healthy kidneys filter 150 quarts of blood daily!

Healthy kidneys filter about a half cup of blood every minute removing wastes and extra water to make urine. The urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder through two thin tubes of muscle called ureters, one on each side of your bladder.

Each of your kidneys is made up of about a million filtering units called nephrons. Each nephron includes a filter, called the glomerulus and a tubule — the glomerulus filters your blood, and the tubule returns needed substances to your blood and removes wastes.

Blood flows into your kidney through the renal artery. Your blood circulates through your kidneys many times a day. In a single day, your kidneys filter about 150 quarts of blood. Most of the water and other substances that filter through your glomeruli are returned to your blood by the tubules. Only 1 to 2 quarts become urine. Children produce less urine than adults, and the amount produced depends on their age.

Kidney cancer is very common but few symptoms in early stages                               

Without findings in a CT scan, kidney cancer usually doesn’t have signs or symptoms in its early stages. Overtime some common signs and symptoms of kidney may develop and are:

* Blood in your urine, which may appear pink, red or cola colored

* Pain in your back or side that doesn’t go away

* Loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss

* Tiredness

* Fever

Renal cell carcinoma is the most common form of kidney cancer among adults and Wilms’ tumor is a type of kidney cancer that is most likely to affect children. The cases of kidney cancer seem to be on the rise. One of the reasons for this may be because CT scans are being used more frequently for other diagnostic screenings and these tests can lead to the accidental discovery of different types of kidney cancers. If kidney cancer is found early and the tumors are small and confined to just the kidneys, it is easier to treat. North Iowans who find themselves in this position can now get treated closer to home with the new cryoablation procedure available in Mason City.

Specialty care close to home

Up-to-date. Down-to-earth. Close to home. Lots of great reasons to make Mason City Clinic
your first choice for all your family’s specialty healthcare needs.

250 S. Crescent Drive, Mason City, IA 50401

Tel: 641.494.5200

Toll Free: 800-622-1411

Fax: 641.494.5403

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2440 Bridge Avenue, Albert Lea, MN 56007

Tel: 641.494.5200

Fax: 641.494.5403

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