To knock out cancer, surgeons often throw the first punch. Removing a tumor gives subsequent treatments like chemotherapy and radiation better odds of eradicating any lingering cancer cells—and thereby prevents cancer from returning. But in a traditional operating room, a surgeon may not be able to completely see a tumor inside of the body, nor discern it from healthy tissue with the naked eye.
Enter AMIGO. Brigham and Women’s Advanced Multimodality Image-Guided Operating suite produces incredibly precise images and data that enable a surgeon to remove every last cancer cell in one operation, while keeping all healthy tissue intact.
“We are the only surgical suite in the world with this combination of technologically sophisticated imaging, navigation, and therapeutic tools,” says Ferenc Jolesz, MD, vice chairman emeritus for research and co-director of the Division of Magnetic Resonance Imaging and the Image Guided Therapy Program at BWH.
AMIGO’s six imaging methods—X-ray fluoroscopy, X-ray computed tomography, positron emission tomography, 3D ultrasound, high-field MRI, and optical imaging—allow surgical teams to view tumors in real time, while computerized navigation displays a surgeon’s tools at work inside of the patient throughout an operation. Finally, therapeutic options such as lasers, robotics, and tools that heat or freeze tumors can consolidate multiple surgeries into just one operation.
Since opening in May 2011, close to 300 AMIGO procedures have been completed in patients with breast, brain, cervical, and prostate cancers, as well as other diseases. Jolesz anticipates that new procedures for sarcoma and lung cancer will launch this year.
Despite this tremendous progress, Jolesz stresses that not all patients need AMIGO. “In many cases, traditional cancer surgery provides the ideal tools for tumor removal,” he explains. “But when certain tumors do require the imaging and therapy that AMIGO offers, this sophisticated suite improves patients’ outcomes.”
Jolesz mentioned that currently, the rate of re-operations required to remove lingering cancer cells in breast and brain cancer patients is as much as 40 percent. The goal of image-guided surgeries in AMIGO is to decrease this percentage to a single digit.
These early successes make Jolesz excited about AMIGO’s potential to help more patients with different types of cancer. “There’s no limitation to what we can do with AMIGO,” Jolesz says. “The only limitation is in the funding available to move new applications forward.”