Microwave Applications
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Therapeutic applications of microwaves have been investigated in the Clinical Physics Department of The Royal London Hospital. The aim of the research was to develop a new method of treating the pre-cancerous condition Barrett’s oesophagus, a condition that increases the risk of oesophageal cancer (adenocarcinoma).

The proposed method is to deliver microwave radiation endoscopically, to uniformly heat in situ tissues to hyperthermic temperatures, enabling the ablation of surface affected tissues without damaging the underlying normal tissue. Microwave balloon applicators have been developed that produce uniform heating with controllable microwave penetration in vitro. The applicator has now been tested in both feasibility and clinical tests, where it passed into the oesophagus with relative ease and once inflated was a hands-free treatment device. Experiments were completed without perforation or other adverse effect. An endoscope could be passed freely down the oesophagus at the end of the treatments and after one week. The balloon was fitted with an array of temperature sensors, which gave an indication of the treatment in situ and allowed modifications to be performed in real-time. These initial tests and development work were supported by NEAT grants. An extended one thousand word abstract detailing the research was awarded the IPEM Spiers’ Prize for 2003.

In the longer term the aim is to develop an accurate computer model and management plan for the treatment of Barrett’s oesophagus by microwave radiation. The technique has several advantages over current techniques and there would also be a cost saving benefit associated with this treatment, as it would reduce the cost of regular surveillance of Barrett’s oesophagus.

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Last modified 25th February 2014

Stuart Meeson

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