Lourdes Surgeon Removes 9 Pound Liver Tumor with Innovative Treatment
Myra Garcia looked and felt like she was six months pregnant. The only problem was the 38-year-old Trenton resident wasn’t carrying a little bundle of joy.
Last week, Garcia underwent surgery at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center to remove a 9-pound, 25-centimeter wide tumor called a hemangioma from her liver. A tangled mass of blood vessels, a hemangioma does not lead to liver cancer but can be alarming nonetheless.
“I felt something growing inside of me, but I didn’t pay too much attention to it at first. Then in May, I started feeling nauseated and dizzy, and I looked like I was six months pregnant. But I wasn’t pregnant,” said Garcia, a married mother of two.
Garcia’s doctor referred her to Lourdes’ Southern New Jersey Center for Liver Disease, where she was diagnosed with the tumor. Hemangiomas are thought to be present in 7 percent of otherwise healthy adults. Women are most likely to develop a hemangioma than men. Pregnancy and estrogen are thought to play a role in the growth of the mass.
Ely Sebastian, MD, Garcia’s surgeon, believes her bowling ball-sized hemangioma had been slowly growing inside her liver for more than 10 years.
“Hemangiomas are usually small, from 1 to 4 centimeters in diameter. Most do not cause any problems,” said Dr. Sebastian. “Ms. Garcia, however, was experiencing symptoms, which can include abdominal pain, lack of appetite, nausea and vomiting–and her mass kept getting bigger and bigger.”
Most liver hemangiomas do not require treatment. But because Garcia’s was so large, Dr. Sebastian recommended surgery. Dr. Sebastian removed the right side of Garcia’s liver that contained the hemangioma.
He also used a relatively new procedure called microwave ablation. This technique uses microwave heat energy to destroy unwanted tissue, commonly cancer cells. In Garcia’s case, rather than kill cancer cells, the microwave heat sealed the blood vessels that comprise the hemangioma.
“This type of surgery can be very bloody,” said Dr. Sebastian, who also performs a full range of liver surgeries, including transplants. “We used microwave ablation during the surgery to help minimize bleeding and reduce complications after the operation. We offer the latest technologies to help provide the best care for our patients.”
Garcia spent several days in the hospital and is now recovering at home. Her remaining liver will partially grow back (the liver is the only organ in the human body able to regenerate) and function normally.
“The staff at Lourdes took wonderful care of me,” she said.
Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center is the only center in New Jersey south of New Brunswick that offers treatment of liver disease and organ transplantation. The comprehensive program, led by surgeons Drs. John Radomski, Nasser Youssef and Ely Sebastian and hepatologists Drs. Hisham El Genaidi and Ashraf Malak, specializes in the treatment of liver cancer and viral hepatitis, as well as liver transplantation, liver resections, liver ablation and bile duct reconstruction.
For media inquiries, please contact Lauren Markin at Markinl@lourdesnet.org or (856) 705-1375.