Ross Twp. boy lives pain-free thanks to new bone tumor treatment

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PITTSBURGH —

Imagine trying to tuck your child in for bed while he's suffering from intense bone pain and there's nothing you can do.

That was the case for one Ross Township family until a new treatment came out for osteoid ostema (benign bone tumors). 

Channel 11's Jennifer Abney looked at how this new procedure is now letting one young boy live pain-free.

“When I walked, it would hurt. It would feel like it was kind of burning,” Jesse Steinmetz said.

Steinmetz, 9, told Abney that something as simple as walking had become difficult, so his parents took him to a pediatrician.

“They actually told us it was a tumor, and I immediately thought it was cancerous,” Jesse’s mother, Amy Steinmetz, said.

The tumor wasn’t cancerous, but Jesse was diagnosed with an osteoid osteoma –- a small, but painful benign bone tumor.

“It would wake him up at night. We would give him Motrin, and at school they would give him Motrin if he needed it. A lot of activities were pretty much canceled for him,” Ami Steinmetz said.

Jesse said while his friends were playing football and soccer, he was forced to sit out.

“I had to sit down and do the score boards,” Jesse said.

In the past, invasive surgery was the only treatment option, but a specialist at Allegheny General Hospital gave the Steinmetz family hope with a technique that uses radio frequencies.

"In this case, in the form of microwaves, energy comes out of the active tip of the electrode contacting the tumor and we achieve positioning by using the CT scanner," musculo-skeletal radiologist Dr. Robert Sciulli said.

Sciulli said the energy heats up the tissue, destroying the tumor. He said it’s a minimally invasive procedure and most patients are back on their feet in a day and off their medications.

“It feels like it used to,” Jesse said. “It doesn’t hurt anymore because I can walk fine.”

Sciulli said the same technology with a little larger probe is being used in cancer patients with malignant tumors to alleviate pain.

“We were at the right place at the right time, and we met the right doctor,” Ami Steinmetz said.