Non-surgical treatment will use gas to freeze prostate cancer cells
Doctors in the UK are to use a new "precision" treatment to target prostate cancer using frozen needles guided by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
The non-surgical procedure, known as MRI-guided cryotherapy, will be performed by urologists and radiologists at Southampton General Hospital, supported by clinicians from Strasbourg, France.
It involves placing hollow needles into the prostate and passing through compressed argon gases which cool rapidly to around minus 40C to freeze and destroy cancer cells in the affected part of the gland.
The procedure is normally carried out using ultrasound imaging to guide the needles through the skin.
But the new technique is being introduced as the cancerous tissue can be identified by MRI while clinicians could only see the ice grow on the edge of the needles when using ultrasound probe which reduced its effectiveness.
A hospital spokesman said: "Using MRI, they are able to watch ice develop on the needles in 3D and in real-time, providing much more detail and enabling more accuracy when destroying tumours through the ability to 'sculpt' balls of ice to cover the affected area.
"Most patients who undergo the treatment, which takes around two hours to complete under general anaesthetic, return home the same day."
Surgeon Tim Dudderidge, who will carry out the procedure today, said: "This is a fantastic development. The tumour is much more visible on MRI and we can place needles to get optimum ice coverage into the most aggressive part of the tumour."