Gibbons RP. Transurethral Freezing of the Bladder: An Experimental Study. J Urol. 1966. 95;33-44.
Presented at the Urological Research Forum at the annual American Urological Association in New Orleans, 1965, Dr. Robert Gibbons presented early experiments to treat non-invasive urothelial cancers of the bladder. The proposed hypothesis was that by circumferentially destroying the mucosa of the bladder, the risk of subsequent, recurrent non-invasive cancers could be eliminated. Therefore Gibbons set out to find an acceptable freezing material and device to deliver a treatment that could treat these non-invasive bladder cancers.
Using a specially designed transurethral cooling device, Gibbons was able to deliver coolant to the entire surface of the bladder – effectively destroying the urothelial layer.
The experiments were carried out in 30 dogs, and anatomic and pathological evaluation was carried out of the bladders at varying time points following treatment. By carefully tuning the cooling apparatus, Gibbons was able to achieve greater than 75% mucosal slough in many of the experiments. Importantly, Gibbons was never able to achieve 100% mucosal destruction, nor could he create reproducible outcomes by standardizing the coolant and methods to cool the bladder. Anatomic examination demonstrated reduced bladder capacity, new onset hydronephrosis and abdominal adhesions in many animals. Pathological evaluation demonstrated involvement of the submucosa in most specimens and often noticed full-thickness necrosis of the bladder wall in a number of cases. Unfortunately, this corresponded to peritoneal infections and death in a number of the experiments.
While this experiment could be considered a failure, this was an outstanding attempt to treat non-invasive bladder cancers. In 1965, there was no BCG or other intravesical treatment for the management of non-invasive urothelial cancers. Thermal ablation, or "freezing" of cancers was en vogue and being attempted in gastric, esophageal, retinal, brain and kidney cancers.
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