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About Irreversible electroporation, also referred to as nanoknife

Irreversible electroporation is a fairly new, minimally invasive technique to treat soft tissue tumors in the liver, lung, prostate, head, neck, kidney and pancreas.

IRE offers an option to patients who have cancerous tumors that are in close proximity to blood vessels, ducts or nerves. IRE can be used where other techniques, such as radiofrequency ablation, microwave ablation, cryotherapy and traditional open surgery, may otherwise damage nearby blood vessels, ducts and nerves.

How does irreversible electroporation work?

IRE uses electrical energy pulses to break open the tumor cell walls, causing the cancer cells to die. The electrical field neither produces extreme heat or cold, and allows for precisely targeted treatment.

How is the irreversible electroporation procedure performed?

IRE is performed under general anesthesia. Using state-of-the-art computed tomography (CT) technolog, the RIA Endovascular interventional radiologist creates a precise electrical field by first mapping the tumor. Once the treatment area is determined, electrical probes are inserted through the skin into the tumor, creating a field around the lesion. Short, intense electrical pulses are sent into the targeted area, destroying the cancer cells. The time it takes to place the needles varies based on the size and location of the tumor.

What is recovery like after the procedure?

Since the procedure is considered to be minimally invasive, recovery time may be faster than some other treatments; there may be soreness from the needles. There is little scarring due to the manner is which the procedure causes the cancer cells to open and die taking advantage of the body’s natural healing ability.

Some patients with larger tumors may need more than one treatment, as the interventional radiologist may need to target different parts of the lesion at different times. A few weeks after initial therapy, patients can return for additional treatments.

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