WVU Cancer Institute debuts treatment for liver metastases

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A team of surgical oncologists from the WVU Cancer Institute, including Wallis Marsh, M.D., M.B.A., Carl Schmidt, M.D., and Brian Boone, M.D., have performed the state’s first isolated hepatic perfusion, an operation that delivers chemotherapy directly to the liver to treat metastases that cannot be surgically removed. 

Drs. Marsh, Schmidt, and Boone
(From left to right) Wallis Marsh, M.D., M.B.A., Carl Schmidt, M.D., and Brian Boone, M.D.

“Complex surgical procedures like isolated hepatic perfusion are possible here at WVU due to a highly skilled and dedicated team of anesthesiologists, perfusionists, pharmacists, and nurses that maximize the success of the operation,” Dr. Schmidt said.

In many cases, cancer metastases to the liver are unable to be removed because they affect a large area of the organ. By directly infusing chemotherapy into the liver, the patient is able to avoid many of the effects of chemotherapy when it is distributed through the entire system.

“These patients are at an advanced stage of cancer when it has spread to the liver,” Dr. Boone said. “By infusing chemotherapy directly into the liver, we are able to stop or slow the progression of their metastases, giving these patients more time.”

The isolated hepatic perfusion is one of several regional therapy procedures now offered by WVU Medicine surgical oncology, including delivery of heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) for peritoneal malignancy and placement of hepatic artery infusion pumps for liver metastases.

“The ability to offer advanced procedures like this at WVU Medicine helps us stand apart from other academic medical centers as leaders in innovation,” Dr. Marsh said. 

The patient is doing well and is recovering at home.