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Lewis Introduces Surgical Technique, Saves Limbs
James Lewis, MD, Assistant Professor, Surgery Division of Surgical Oncology, came to the Graduate School of Medicine in September 2008, introducing a surgical procedure known as isolated limb infusion (ILI) that has made an impression at the medical center and beyond.
The groundbreaking procedure is a minimally invasive catheter-based surgical technique used to control and, at times, cure advanced melanoma or soft tissue sarcoma of the extremity. During the procedure, high doses of chemotherapy medications are injected into an artery or vein within the affected limb while blood flow is temporarily blocked with a tourniquet. This allows large doses of chemotherapy to be administered to the limb without affecting the rest of the body. Using ILI, Dr. Lewis is able to save limbs from amputation.
"It's a standard of therapy," Dr. Lewis said, "but it's just not that common around the country. We're the first to do it in Tennessee."
Dr. Lewis performed the first ILI procedure in January, and to date, two patients have benefited from its success with a third surgery completed last week. ILI is reported to cause significant shrinkage in tumors in approximately two-thirds of patients. Results may be seen as early as two weeks with continued response for three to six months.
See news coverage of the ILI procedure on WBIR-TV 10.
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