Published on February 3, 2020

AHMEDABAD: Geeta (name changed), 7, a native of Devbhoomi Dwarka, complained to her parents of an unusual swelling near her knee in October last year. When the doctors diagnosed it as a cancerous tumour, her parents feared the leg might need amputation to save her. 
Three months later, she underwent a complex surgery at Gujarat Cancer Research Institute (GCRI) at Civil Hospital where a team of doctors used a novel method to ensure that her tumour was removed and her own bone re-fixed after cryosurgery – a process where the tumour is exposed to liquid nitrogen at -185 degrees Celsius.

Dr Abhijeet Salunke, orthopaedic oncosurgeon, GCRI, said that in usual cases, a tumour so close to the knee leaves no other option but to cut it from the spread above, resulting in loss of limb. “With help of a local designer, we got the exact replica of the tumour-affected femur (thigh) bone along with a jig. The 3d model was created based on CT and MRI scans and gave up to millimetre precision,” he said.

The surgery, that lasted for six hours last week, included the surgeons cutting exact 18 cm of the bone along with the tumour with the help of a jig – an instrument to guide the precise cuts – designed for the patient, putting the bone in liquid nitrogen for 20 minutes, treating it and then affixing it again at the same spot with the tumour removed. The team of doctors included Dr Salunke, Dr Mayur Kamani and Dr Vishal Bhabhor. The tumour weighed 1.5 kg and caused blood loss of 500 ml.

Dr Shashank Pandya, director of GCRI, said the condition the girl had is identified as Ewing’s sarcoma of femur bone. “It was just 3cm away from the knee joint and was difficult to remove through conventional methods. The girl’s surgery is successful and we are hopeful she will be back on her feet nine months after the treated bone establishes connection with adjoining bones,” he said.

The team members claimed that it was a unique surgery using a combination of 3D printing and cryosurgery. They added that while computer-aided surgery can perform a similar feat, the method they employed is much more economical and suitable for countries like India.

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