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Gamma Probe Given to Medical Center

November 19, 2000|NANCY FORREST-YOSNOW

The Ventura County Medical Resource Foundation has donated a gamma probe, a radiation-detection device, to the Ventura County Medical Center.

An increasing number of medical centers across the nation are using gamma probes during surgery to assess the involvement of lymph nodes in certain types of cancer, said Mary Howard, the foundation's executive director.

Surgeons can measure the extent of breast and liver cancer and malignant melanoma cases with the device, Howard said. "This is an important improvement in designing specific, effective and individualized treatment for each cancer patient."

The procedure begins with an injection, followed by nuclear medicine scanning. The patient is then taken to an operating room where surgeons and a nuclear medicine physician use the gamma probe to locate and remove any lymph nodes that are draining tissue fluids from a cancer site.

By removing and microscopically analyzing these nodes, more accurate information is available to plan cancer treatment and less extensive surgery is required, Howard said. This makes an operation easier on a patient and can accelerate recovery.

"The quality and future expansion capabilities of such a device are very important factors for patient care," Howard said. "One of the finest instruments available has been obtained for the benefit of patients at Ventura County Medical Center."

Howard said the gamma probe, which costs about $31,000 and is the size of a laptop computer, can be upgraded for other medical uses.

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