I spent a decent part of my morning staring at images of Dave’s liver. The radiologist and ultrasound tech were having difficulty determining what might be live tumor and what were areas that had previously been treated either surgically or with the Sirspheres. As the doctor put it, “We can see that it is abnormal tissue. We are just not sure what makes it abnormal.” Eventually they brought in a second ultrasound technician and more equipment. This additional equipment allowed them to import Dave’s latest CT scan onto the screen, so that as they moved the transducer around, the CT images would also shift allowing them a comparison to what they were seeing via ultrasound. I don’t mean to brag but I was able to see Darth Vader, a horseshoe crab and The Grimace in there.
There were a lot of people in the small room. There was someone from “research” who arrived with two styrofoam boxes in which to carry the biopsy samples. She spent much of her time pacing in the hallway. There were three doctors from pathology who were ready to look at the samples under the microscope to determine if they were adequate. There were two radiologists to do the actual biopsy, two ultrasound techs and a nurse. Oh, and me. I was in there. Once a promising area was located via ultrasound, they were ready to go. Dave was given preemptive Oxycodone as the procedure promised to be pretty uncomfortable. They also numbed his skin via injection. As the big needles were coming out, I got nervous and excused myself out into the hallway. I couldn’t believe that no one asked me to leave. I kept waiting for my exit cue, but it never came.
I sat in the waiting room and sent a few texts and responded to email. A very short while later, I saw the doctor? from research walk by with her styrofoam boxes. I figured they must be done and was amazed at how quickly they were able to finish up. Minutes later I found out why. Apparently they tried to approach the tumor location from one angle closer to Dave’s belly button but they weren’t able to get to the spot. So they tried again from his side – between two ribs. This caused Dave to yell out in pain. At that point, they determined that they would not be able to do the biopsy. The radiologist explained to Dave that because it was for a clinical trial they were not going to put him through all of that pain to get the tumor sample. If it were a procedure he needed, they would have pressed on.
Our understanding of the clinical trial was that in order to be eligible a biopsy had to be attempted. If it was not successful that would be okay. We weren’t entirely sure if what was done today would count. On the drive home, Dave got an email from Dr. A reassuring him that they would still be able to move forward with the trial. So our little story had a happy ending.