Kidney Tumor Program Sets the Standard


In the summer of 2011, Somerville resident Jo Ann Vining, 56, noticed blood in her stool following a miserable day of stomach cramps and vomiting. Concerned, she went to a local hospital, where a CT scan revealed a suspicious-looking mass on her kidney that, it turns out, was totally unrelated to her symptoms.


Within a few days, she was being seen by urologist Andrew Wagner, MD, who alsong with medical oncologist David McDermott, MD, is Co-Director of the Kidney Tumor Program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.


Following some tests, Vining was told that the small mass was malignant and would have to be removed surgically — the first line of treatment for kidney cancer, which is diagnosed in approximately 61,000 Americans each year.


At most hospitals, even many major academic centers, this operation would have been done using a traditional open procedure, which requires an eight- to 12-inch incision and perhaps removal of a portion of a rib.


But Vining had another, better, option. Wagner performed a robot-assisted laparoscopic partial nephrectomy, which required only five small “keyhole” incisions.


“I healed very quickly and was off pain medications even before I left the hospital,” says Vining, who now has a clean bill of health.


A National Leader


Wagner, who is fellowship-trained in laparoscopic and robotic urologic surgery, has performed hundreds of major kidney surgeries, the vast majority of them laparoscopically.


Because of his extensive experience, Wagner is able to perform complex reconstructive techniques using robot-assisted approaches when tumors are small, as was Vining’s. And, he is often able to remove even large kidney tumors laparoscopically.


A minimally invasive approach offers significant advantages to patients — less pain, a shorter hospitalization, and a quicker recovery — with no compromise in effectiveness.


“Andrew was one of the first to perform partial nephrectomy [kidney removal] with robotics, and continues to be a national leader in minimally invasive surgery,” says William DeWolf, MD, Chief of the Division of Urologic Surgery at BIDMC.


First in New England


Launched six years ago, the Kidney Tumor Program was the first service in New England to provide comprehensive, multidisciplinary care exclusively for patients with malignant (cancerous) or benign kidney tumors.


This care encompasses the latest minimally invasive surgical options, including sophisticated robotic technology; the full breadth of medical therapies; and cutting-edge non-invasive therapies like the CyberKnife, as well as access to dedicated nurses and psychosocial services.


Setting the Standard


Through its rare combination of state-of-the-art multidisciplinary treatment, leading-edge research, and innovative training, the Kidney Tumor Program sets the standard for programs nationwide.


But for Vining and hundreds of other patients from around the world who have been treated at the Kidney Tumor Program, the true measure of the program’s excellence is far more personal.


“The care I received from Dr. Wagner and his team was second to none,” says Vining.


Another patient who is very grateful for the care provided by the Kidney Tumor Program is Brookline resident Suzanne Fisher Bloomberg. Like Vining, Bloomberg underwent a robotic-assisted laparoscopic partial nephrectomy for kidney cancer, but only after being told by a surgeon at another Boston hospital that the size and location of her tumor required an open procedure.


A very active person, Bloomberg was not eager to risk the prolonged recovery of open surgery.


“I shopped around and found out from a physician friend about Dr. Wagner’s expertise with minimally invasive surgical approaches,” says Bloomberg, who had her operation last July. “I’m so glad I did. The recovery was nothing. I was out of the hospital in two days, and playing golf and doing Pilates by the end of August.”


Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.