EL PASO, Texas—Las Palmas Medical Center is the first and currently only site in the world to enroll patients in a clinical trial for a fluorescent imaging agent, which may help to greatly reduce the number of ureter injuries during hysterectomies, colon resections and other specialty surgeries. This technology—which illuminates proteins in the ureter, a pair of tubes transporting urine from each kidney to the bladder—was used in a procedure first performed by Richard Farnam, M.D., an OB/GYN specializing in urogynecology, who is conducting the trial at Las Palmas Medical Center. Over the last decade, Dr. Farnam has initiated several studies and presented research on the topic of incidental ureter injury prevention.

Administered intravenously, the chemical binds and illuminates proteins within the ureter, and using a special near-infrared laser, this illumination permits the surgeon to see the ureter even as it’s deep within the tissue. The current study builds on the groundwork of a prior ureteral stent study conducted by Dr. Farnam at Las Palmas Medical Center. The previous study, initiated in 2015, used an indocyanine green chemical, which is traditionally complex to administer for ureteral fluoresces.

"We are the first site in the world to participate in this trial that could provide surgeons a better view of the ureter than they have had previously, which could help prevent incidental injuries,” Dr. Farnam said. “The results are promising so far, and if they continue this way, this innovation has the potential to positively affect tens of thousands of lives. While the risk of ureter injury in hysterectomies is only 0.2 to 1 percent, there are about 600,000 procedures performed annually across the U.S. That means as many as 6,000 ureters are inadvertently injured per year, but we’re hoping to find a way to significantly minimize this complication.”

When a ureter is damaged, which can also occur in other specialty surgeries such as colon resection, it can have serious consequences. If the ureter is cut, the fluid traveling from the kidney to the bladder can leak into the abdominal cavity and cause inflammation. It can also cause the fluid to back up and, ultimately, destroy the kidney completely. If the damage is caught early, these complications can be minimized, but the goal of the fluorescent imaging agent is to find a way to avoid injury outright.

“We are honored to host this trial in El Paso and support Dr. Farnam in this groundbreaking research,” Don Karl, chief executive officer of Las Palmas Medical Center, said. “The research conducted and analyzed from this trial is the first step in a process that may positively affect patients by avoiding a potentially serious complication.”

For more information on this clinical trial at Las Palmas Medical Center, visit LPDS Healthcare.

Las Palmas Medical Center

Las Palmas Medical Center, located at 1801 N. Oregon, is part of Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare, the leading healthcare provider for El Paso and the surrounding region, with physicians, nurses and staff who are committed to delivering the highest quality patient care available. With 316 beds, this full-service, acute care hospital offers comprehensive medical services in nearly every specialty including a certified stroke program, pediatric intensive care, award-winning maternity, cardiology and neuroscience. Las Palmas Medical Center is also known for cutting-edge robotic surgery and the region’s only kidney transplant program. For more information, please visit LPDS Healthcare.