An oncologist at the CancerCare Langenhoven Drive Oncology Centre in Port Elizabeth has successfully treated a patient's brain tumour from 1,000km away, using ground-breaking new remote technologies and surgery-free gamma radiation equipment.
Dr Cathryn Walton carried out the unit's first remote Gamma Knife radiosurgery on a patient on the 30th of October, managing the procedure via a laptop from PE, while her patient was in Johannesburg.
Having attended the launch of Gamma Knife in South Africa, she became so enthusiastic about its potential that she underwent training in the U.S. earlier this year.
What does it do?
An opportunity arose to harness the treatment when a 59-year-old male patient was found to have lesions in his brain. The patient had previously undergone chemotherapy and understood the risks of whole brain radiation, so he was willing to undergo this new form of treatment, even though he was initially a little taken aback to learn that the procedure would be from Port Elizabeth.
He flew to Johannesburg and the procedure was carried out in under an hour. Nursing little more than a slight headache, he returned home the next day.
The Gamma Knife facility at Netcare Milpark Hospital is the only one of its kind in SA, with remote facilities now in Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.