Tumour Surgery Less Expensive With Vitamin E
NEW DELHI: Doctors at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) are using Vitamin E tablets as a substitute for expensive disposable markers while performing minimally invasive neurosurgery for tumours. This has brought down the cost of disposable by 99% making it affordable for patients.
AIIMS has one image-guided machine, which is used for performing the complex neurosurgery procedure through minimal invasion. The surgery costs nearly Rs 15,000, but the disposable fiducials (markers) that were provided by the manufacturer of the machine increased the cost by another Rs 5,000. “The fiducials just added to the total surgery cost. Moreover, in a disposable kit there are limited fiducials,” said Dr Deepak Agrawal, assistant professor, neurosurgery, AIIMS Trauma Centre.
Fiducials, which are visible in CT-scan and MRI, are placed on the forehead of the patient at strategic positions this helps the neurosurgeon mark the coordinates of the tumour. “This technique ensures there is no error while performing the surgery,” said Dr Agrawal, who discovered that Vitamin E can be used in place of fiducials.
The short supply of fiducials at AIIMS resulted in the discovery of its cheaper alternative. “We tried different products like copper sulphate and milk solids etc, but nothing was visible on MRI or CT-scan. We then tried Vitamin E and it worked. Vitamin E has tocopheral that has a unique characteristic of being visible under magnetic and radioactive radiation. Moreover, it’s very cheap so we can use as many as we want,” said Dr Agrawal, who was also recently awarded by the US congress of state neurological surgeons for this discovery.
The neurosurgery department at AIIMS has been using Vitamin E for the past 18 months and operated close to 100 patients. “Now, a patient has to just pay the surgery cost. Many companies price the disposables unreasonably high to ensure a steady revenue long after the initial product has been sold. This discovery will help a lot of patients,” said Dr Agrawal.