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New surgical device for bloodless operations gets first US outing

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External Sites:
-Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust
-RITA Medical Systems
(Imperial College is not responsible for the content of these external internet sites)

For immediate release
Thursday 8 September 2005

A new device for removing liver tumours with virtually no blood loss has been successfully used for the first time in America.

The Habib 4X resection device is named after its inventor Professor Nagy Habib Opens in new window, from Imperial College London, Professor of Hepato-Biliary Surgery at Imperial College London and chief of service for gastrointestinal surgery at Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust in west London. The revolutionary new device uses radiofrequency energy to 'seal' tissue around a tumour site, allowing the tumour to be removed while preventing blood loss and other complications. The device has enabled surgeons to operate where previously it would have been too risky.

Surgical device

After developing the technology Professor Habib formed an Imperial College spinout company, EMcision, who have a worldwide licence agreement with US-based RITA Medical Systems. The Habib 4X received approval from the US Food and Drug administration in August, and the first operation using the Habib 4X took place at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, near Los Angeles, California, last week. The Habib 4X is already licensed for use in Europe.

The Habib 4X works by delivering high-energy radio waves through a hand held device consisting of four electrodes into tissue around the tumour. They heat cells causing them to dehydrate and thus form a seal. The tumour is removed with a scalpel, with virtually no blood loss, and without the use of staples, glue, ties, and sutures.

Before use of the device in the UK for the removal of liver tumours, patients often lost up to ten pints of blood during the operation. Now, less than 50ml (an egg-cup full) is lost, and the patient spends less time in hospital intensive care. Over 100 patients have been operated on with the new device since October 2004, and none have died or suffered serious illness after the operation. The average hospital stay has been reduced from two weeks to eight days. When patients were followed up over a period of between two and 20 months, tumours had not returned in any of them. "The liver is the second commonest site of cancer in the body," comments Professor Habib, "So the potential of the Habib 4X is huge. The first use of the device in America is a significant and exciting milestone."

"The liver is the second commonest site of cancer in the body," comments Professor Habib, "So the potential of the Habib 4X is huge. The first use of the device in America is a significant and exciting milestone as we continue to develop the potential of radio frequency and microwave technologies for surgery."

As part of the licensing deal, the Habib 4X will be made available to developing countries in Africa at cost price.


For further information please contact:

Tony Stephenson
Press Officer
Communications Division
Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6712
Mobile: +44 (0)7753 739766

Simon Wilde
Press and Communications Manager
Hammersmith Hospital
Tel: +44 (0)20 8383 4549

Notes to editors:

1. Pictures of the Habib 4X device are available.

2. Consistently rated in the top three UK university institutions, Imperial College London is a world leading science-based university whose reputation for excellence in teaching and research attracts students (11,000) and staff (6,000) of the highest international quality.
Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and management and delivers practical solutions that enhance the quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.

3. Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust, based in north west London, comprises Hammersmith, Charing Cross, Queen Charlottes & Chelsea and Ravenscourt Park Hospitals. The unique world-class research environment at the Hammersmith provides the opportunity for translational research reaching from laboratory bench to patients bedside. In addition to receiving a large proportion of the NHS R&D budget, the Trust works closely with Imperial College London in all clinical specialities. The Medical Research Councils largest clinical research centre is also based at Hammersmith Hospital and many major charities fund research units. Over 60% of our research budget is dedicated to programmes targeted at national priorities, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.