Three days after she was diagnosed with kidney cancer and began taking antibiotics for the first of several anticipated surgeries, Susan Lieber bought a hospital bed in preparation for her convalescence. She sold the bed one month later -- after she received a second opinion from an abdominal imaging expert at Washington University.
The radiologist from a local St Louis facility, who first interpreted her films, diagnosed a malignant tumor in a fluid-filled cavity in the left kidney. Puncturing it, he said, would release cancer cells. “They were going to take out my left kidney. They also found a problem with my gall bladder and uterus and indicated that I should undergo surgery to remove them al! I was devastated.” The 59-year-old wife and mother of three thought she might die.
A registered nurse by training, Lieber understood the importance of a second opinion, especially with such a serious medical diagnosis and surgical plan. That’s when the Sunset Hills resident called Washington University. “I wanted an expert in abdominal imaging ", she said. Lieber was referred to and quickly seen by Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology abdominal imaging section chief, Vamsi Narra, MD.
“He was physically present in the control booth during my CT and my MRI to guide the technologist, said Lieber. Instead of a malignant tumor, Dr. Narra found a large complex cyst with a blood clot involving the left kidney. "He likened it to a mole on the face or a wart on the foot. It had no blood supply like a tumor.” Immediate surgery was not required but the cyst would require monitoring.
With two conflicting reports, Lieber sought additional medical opinions from other leading institutions across the country. They all agreed: Dr. Narra's diagnosis was correct.
For several years, Lieber returned to Washington University for an annual CT-scan or MRI. Although it is less frequent now, Lieber says each time she walks away from her office visit she knows there is consistency in reading her film and in the care she receives.
“I can’t say enough about the radiologists at Washington University in providing individualized treatment and genuine concern. Dr. Narra went out of his way to be physically present for the MRI scans and gave immediate results that reassured and allowed me to go on with my life without worry that I had kidney cancer. I was not just a number. If I were, I would have had three major and unnecessary surgeries."