Isolated Limb Infusion Saves Mom and Baby


BALTIMORE, Md. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Patients with advanced cancer in their arms or legs often face amputation, but a technique that channels the chemotherapy directly to the tumor is saving patient’s lives and limbs. It’s called isolated limb infusion or ILI.

Krissy Loch calls three-year-old Daisy her little miracle.

“We weren’t trying to get pregnant. We weren’t trying not to get pregnant. She just kind of showed up. We were married seven years so she was a big surprise. But she saved me,” Loch told Ivanhoe.

For twenty years, Krissy had a mass on her left forearm. She shrugged it off as a muscular problem.

Loch continued, “When I got pregnant, it started to grow more rapidly. I guess the hormones in my body, and it hurt.”

Krissy was diagnosed with advanced sarcoma, a cancer of the soft tissue. Her first doctor recommended she terminate the pregnancy and amputate the arm. Determined to save both, Krissy went to Oncology Specialist Vadim Gushchin. He suggested a technique called isolated limb infusion; doctors thread a catheter through the groin or armpit to the cancer, and put a tourniquet just above the catheter tip.

“It basically isolates the extremity from the rest of the circulation so the very toxic drugs do not get into the system,” Vadim Gushchin, MD, FACS, Surgical Oncologist at Mercy Medical Center stated. (Read Full Interview)

The drugs are pumped into the region for thirty minutes, just once. Then the tourniquet must come off to prevent damage to healthy tissue.

Dr. Gushchin explained, “We did the procedure, the tumor shrunk. It shrunk enough to be excised completely with negative margins.”

Five months after ILI, Krissy delivered Daisy, full-term and in perfect health.

“She’s just everything. She’s my best friend,” Loch said.

Krissy gets scans every six months to monitor the cancer, and remains cancer-free. A recent study by the Journal of the American College of Surgeons found a nearly 80 percent rate of limb preservation with the chemotherapy technique.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field and Supervising Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer and Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #4333

BACKGROUND: Adult soft tissue sarcoma is a disease in which malignant or cancer cells form in the soft tissue areas of the body. These areas include the muscles, tendons, blood vessels, fat, lymph vessels, nerves and tissues surrounding joints. They can form anywhere in the body but are most common in the head, neck, trunk, abdomen, arms and legs. Having certain inherited disorders can increase a person’s risk of adult soft tissue sarcoma, and a sign that a person may have it is swelling or a lump in soft tissue of the body. Adult soft tissue sarcoma is diagnosed with a biopsy, and certain factors that vary from patient to patient can affect treatment options and chances of recovery. There are different types of soft tissue sarcoma, and the cells of each type look different under a microscope, based on the type of soft tissue in which the cancer began.

TREATMENT: There are a variety of different treatment options for patients with adult soft tissue sarcoma, and depending on the stage a patient presents, medical history, other factors, each case is treated individually. The three standard kinds of treatment include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Treatment may cause side effects, and patients may want to also consider taking part in a clinical trial. Patients can enter clinical trials before, during, and after starting their cancer treatment. Follow-up tests throughout may be necessary.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Isolated limb infusion delivers high doses of chemotherapy directly to the tumor in an extremity. During an ILI, the limb is isolated from the rest of the body using a tourniquet. Blood is routed through a heat source and chemotherapy is added to it, treating just the tumor or tumors in the affected extremity without releasing any chemo into the rest of the body. Chemotherapy is administered directly to the arm or leg where the tumor is located. It can be used to treat unresectable, in-transit melanoma as well as Merkel cell carcinoma and extremity soft tissue sarcoma.


FROM DR. VADIM GUSHCHIN: “The drugs are constantly being circulated through the isolated extremity and the heating element of the perfusion machine (to keep the chemo warm) for 30 minutes. Then the drugs are flushed out from the extremity and the tourniquet comes off.”


Dan Collins

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at


Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Vadim Gushchim, MD, FACS

Read the entire Q&A