A Kidney Tumor Ablation for a Patient Who Doesn't Waste Time

Author:  Laurel Skurko, former Marketing Director, UCSF Radiology and Biomedical Imaging

Michael Johnson doesn’t mess around.

When the 77-year-old retired moving company executive learned he had a kidney tumor, he was ready to act -- but he didn’t want to lose a kidney. His UCSF radiologist, Ronald Zagoria, MD told him about kidney tumor ablation. The procedure is an option for many as an alternative to surgery, or partial or complete nephrectomy (kidney removal).

“When I heard they could do that, I didn’t give it five seconds thought,” said Johnson.

Kidney tumor ablation targets the tumor with a CT-guided heat or freezing probe the size of a needle that’s advanced through the skin without an incision. The tumor is destroyed and the patient usually can return to normal activities within 24 hours, which is exactly what Johnson did. “I was up and moving around right away after an overnight stay at UCSF,” he reported.  

“The procedure is a good option for people with small kidney tumors who might not be healthy enough for surgery, or who, like Mick, want to avoid surgery,” said Zagoria.

Johnson’s wife of over fifty years, Gloria, was relieved by Dr. Zagoria’s description of the procedure and the care he provided for her husband. “He was so clear and complete in how he talked about what would happen. It made me much more comfortable,” she said.

And the procedure seems to have given the Johnsons more time to enjoy travelling together, and time with their children and grandchildren: Johnson’s kidney health has been stable since the procedure was completed.

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