Trust radiology team perform first UK case of electrochemotherapy on spinal tumour

Date: 16/05/2024 | Category: News 2024

The Trust radiology team, led by Dr David McKean Consultant Musculoskeletal Radiologist, performs the first UK case of electrochemotherapy for radioresistant spinal epidural metastases (tumour) at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Electrochemotherapy is a very new and targeted treatment that is available to a small number of patients who have radioresistant metastatic spinal cord compression. Whilst this treatment may not provide a cure for all patients can hugely improve quality of life by reducing pain from growing tumours. It also reduces the chance of a patient becoming paralysed or incontinent as their cancer grows.

The first patient to receive this innovative treatment was Tony Thornes who had a spinal epidural metastases. His tumour responded well to the treatment with significant reduction in the mass around his spine. Sadly, Tony recently passed away due the progression of his cancer. His wife Vanessa said: “Tony was under no illusion that the treatment would be a cure for him, but it gave him much welcome pain relief. What was palpable was the humanity of Dr David McKean and Dr Joe Papanikitas who treated Tony with respect and dignity, which in turn gave him hope and a reason to live. I hope the procedure can be rolled out across the NHS.”

Dr David McKean, Consultant Musculoskeletal Radiologist and Clinical Lead for Radiology at the Trust, shadowed Frederic Deschamps, who pioneered the technique, at Gustave Roussy, one of the leading cancer-research hospitals in Europe.

Electrochemotherapy involves putting needles around the tumour and passing electrical currents between the needles. While also injecting a chemotherapy medication (bleomycin) as the electrical currents alter the tumour’s cell membranes and enables the chemotherapy medication to be taken in more to the area being treated.

Commenting on the treatment David, added: “We strive to deliver outstanding care and this method is enabling us to provide patients with quality of life at end of life and that can make all the difference to both the patient and their families. I’d also like to thank Dr Philip Duggleby, Consultant Anaesthetist, and Dr Laxshmi Veda Avula, Radiology Fellow, for all their support during the procedure.”

Andrew McLaren, Chief Medical Officer at the Trust said: “I would like to thank Tony and Vanessa. Without the support of patients and their families’ innovative treatments and research would not be possible. I’d also like to thank Dr David McKean for working so hard to bring this pioneering treatment to the UK and our Trust.”

The Radiology team has been working closely with IGEA Clinical Biophysics and the Thames Valley Cancer Alliance to bring this treatment to Buckinghamshire.

Follow up imaging showed significant tumour regression

During the procedure







The team led by Dr David McKean (far right of image)