Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

PDT is a medical technology that uses lasers to activate light-sensitive pharmaceuticals to treat cancer (and other diseases) in a minimally-invasive manner.

PDT is considered to be cancer-directed surgery. A cancer registrar should be familiar with how to code this procedure in the cancer abstract.

PDT works as follows:

  • The patient is injected intravenously with a light-sensitive drug (most often, "photofrin").
  • The drug is retained by malignant tissue, remaining inactive until exposed to a specific wavelength of laser light.
  • Laser energy is directed to the site through a flexible fiberoptic device that allows the laser to be targeted precisely at the site.
  • When activated by the lasers' light energy, the drug creates a toxic form of oxygen that destroys the cancerous cells with minimal damage to surrounding healthy cells.

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Updated: December 21, 2023