March 27, 2017

Absolute alcohol can cure tumor, AIIMS doctors find out unique way to tame the deadly disease

Absolute alcohol can cure tumor, AIIMS doctors find out unique way to tame the deadly disease

A dash of alcohol can work wonders on your body and may even save your life. Ask Shruti Jha, 28, who was paralysed below the waist for several months due to a rare spine tumour and was brought to AIIMS when all other avenues failed. Her condition was made more precarious by the fact that she was pregnant.
After several rounds of consultations, doctors decided to pump in a measured amount of “absolute alcohol”, a neuro-toxic drug, into the tumour to destroy the lump. The rest is history, now recorded in the International Journal of Neuroscience.
This technique was performed for the first time in a patient with advanced pregnancy and has been pioneered by AIIMS doctors.
Dr PS Chandra, professor of neurosurgery at AIIMS who developed this technique at the institute, told , “MRI suggested that it was a spine tumour. Many people outside opined that it was a cancerous tumour and there’s no cure. So then, she was brought to the neurosurgery department at AIIMS. We immediately recognised it as ‘vertebral haemangioma’.
This is a slow-growing vertebral tumour, which is not malignant. But the biggest challenge is surgery because it is extremely ‘vascular’ (highly bloody) and if touched by a doctor during surgery it bleeds heavily.”
Presently, experts are performing “intra-arterial embolisation”, where they inject some glue into the tumour. This procedure done before the surgery takes around 4-6 hours, and costs about Rs 3-4 lakh, while absolute alcohol comes for only a few hundred rupees.
Absolute alcohol, or 99% ethanol, causes tumour destruction by drawing water out of the cells, thus dehydrating them, and thereby altering the structure of cellular proteins. Over a longer period of time, it leads to new bone formation, thus facilitating healing in the spine.
In addition, it is a powerful embolising agent and cuts off the blood supply to the tumour. This technique has been published in the reputed journal “Neurosurgery”, which is the official journal for the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, USA, and other prestigious publications.
Dr Chandra said, “As the patient was in her advanced stage of pregnancy, we could not get her to lie upside down So we put her in a lateral position. We opened the up tumour area, inserted two screws in the healthy vertebra above and below and covered the baby. Into the affected vertebra we inserted absolute alcohol.”
Soon after the surgery, Shruti could feel relief in her legs and in delivered a healthy baby in a couple of months.
“I had lost the hope that I would be able to give birth to my child,” she told . “Now I am able to walk and even workout at the gym.”
Historically, ethanol was injected into angiomas (benign tumours) and carcinoma (cancerous tumours) of the kidney and worked very well as an “embolising agent” that killed the tumour cells very fast. However, it is not suitable for all kinds of tumours.
“We have found this treatment is highly effective as it completely kills the tumour cells and over a period of time the patient is doing remarkably well and the tumour is completely gone. Also, there was new bone formation in the place where the tumour was originally present, which means there is healing in that particular area,” said an AIIMS doctor.

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