News and Events

Global Breakthrough: Rambam Physicians Perform Cryotherapy to Remove Superficial Bladder Cancer

Publication Date: 8/8/2021 10:30 AM | by: Rambam

Cryotherapy has been performed for the first time in the world to treat superficial bladder cancer in a 60-year-old patient. The minimally invasive procedure represented a collaboration between Rambam Health Care Campus’s Department of Urology led by Professor Gilad Amiel and Dr. Isaac Hoffman, and representatives of Vessi Medical founded by Mr. Eyal Kochavi.

Rambam’s team during a cryotherapy procedure. Photography courtesy of RHCC.Rambam’s team during a cryotherapy procedure. Photography courtesy of RHCC.

Bladder cancer is the most common type of cancer occurring in men over the age of 55, and the fourth most common cancer in men in the Western World. The currently accepted surgical procedure for this type of cancer can negatively impact the patients’ quality of life. Performed under general anesthesia, the cancer cells are scraped off the bladder wall during the procedure. As a result, healthy tissue can be scarred, leading to edema, infections, and even bleeding. The surgical procedure is lengthy, can involve prolonged hospitalization, and fails to prevent disease recurrence in the future. Repeated surgery is often required to remove subsequent tumors, which increases the risk for complications and can markedly reduce a patient’s quality of life over time.

Cryotherapy is a newer technique typically used to treat lung, kidney, and skin cancers that involves freezing and removal of the cancer cells without damaging the surrounding healthy tissue. Cryotherapy is now being used to treat superficial bladder cancer. The procedure is performed on an ambulatory basis using only mild sedation—saving time in the operating room, reducing complications, shortening the treatment process, and reducing overall stress and risk to the patient. The primary goal of cryotherapy is to lessen the risk of tumor recurrence and to improve the patient’s chance for a full recovery.

Eyal Kochavi first came up with the idea to treat superficial bladder cancer by using cryotherapy after observing a traditional scraping procedure performed by a colleague. He realized there had to be a better way to treat this common cancer. The rest is history and today he is the founder and CEO of Vessi Medical, where this novel modality was developed.

The technique involves navigating a urethral catheter into the patient’s bladder. The tip of the catheter is equipped with an advanced optical system which enables the medical team to see the precise tumor location, target and “freeze” it. The cancer tumor is removed without damaging healthy issue or piercing the bladder.

“We visualize the tumor and treat it with a freeze. The aim is to release the patient from the hospital on the same day as the procedure,” explains Dr. Isaac Hoffman, a senior physician in the Department of Department who participated in the innovative surgery.

Professor Gilad Amiel, director of the department and who performed the procedure, concluded: “We are a large medical center treating numerous cases of bladder cancer. Our multidisciplinary team performs over 300 procedures a year using treatment options such as chemotherapy, robotic surgery, bladder resection, and other advanced technologies. Hence, we are pleased to have teamed up with Vessi Medical, the first company in the world to develop a cryotherapeutic technology to treat superficial bladder cancer. This is particularly important for our own patients. It is now up to us to demonstrate that freezing is an advantageous oncological treatment, with fewer complications and side effects that provides far better results for the patient.”

Click the link below to learn more about Vessi Medical’s cryotherapy solution for superficial bladder cancer – performed in-hospital for the first time in the world at Rambam Health Care Campus.