New Surgical Method for Inoperable Pancreatic Cancer?

Irreversible electroporation implemented for inoperable pancreatic cancer

March 29, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

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(dailyRx News) In some cases, surgeons will not operate on patients with pancreatic cancer that has spread significantly in the local area, due to the many risks. A new surgical technique that uses many small pulses of electricity may change that.

This surgical technique known as irreversible electroporation (IRE) was pioneered in cancers of the liver - it's an advanced form of the more commonly used electric knife technology.

The technique is being modified for possible use with pancreatic cancer.

"Ask your surgeon about irreversible electroporation surgery."

Pancreatic cancers are difficult to detect until the tumor has grown large enough to change nearby organs. Treatment is difficult due to the delicate tissue of the pancreas, as well as several major blood vessels located next to it.

The high precision of the irreversible electroporation provides new options for all pancreatic cancer patients, including those with advanced disease.

Guided by imaging systems, a team of surgeons and radiologists can destroy or remove the tumor without damaging nearby structures.

"We think in another 12 to 15 months we will have a lot more evidence to support the use of IRE for inoperable pancreatic cancer patients," said Govindarajan Narayanan, M.D., chief of vascular and interventional radiology at the University of Miami.

"Irreversible electroporation gives these individuals a new treatment option and a potentially greater chance of survival, " Dr. Narayanan said.

"With this procedure, there is the potential to have the tumor peeled off the blood vessels, and follow up treatment to repair the affected area of the pancreas," he concluded.

The study was presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 37th Annual Scientific Meeting.

Conclusions from research are considered preliminary until published in a peer reviewed journal.

No financial conflicts of interests by the research used in this study were disclosed in publicly available information.