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BMC Gastroenterol. 2001;1:9. Epub 2001 Sep 6.

Electrolytic ablation of the rat pancreas: a feasibility trial.

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  • 1University of Adelaide, Department Of Surgery, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide, SA, Australia.



Pancreatic cancer is a biologically aggressive disease with less than 20% of patients suitable for a "curative" surgical resection. This, combined with the poor 5-year survival indicates that effective palliative methods for symptom relief are required. Currently there are no ablative techniques to treat pancreatic cancer in clinical use. Tissue electrolysis is the delivery of a direct current between an anode and cathode to induce localised necrosis. Electrolysis has been shown to be safe and reliable in producing hepatic tissue and tumour ablation in animal models and in a limited number of patients. This study investigates the feasibility of using electrolysis to produce localised pancreatic necrosis in a healthy rat model.


Ten rats were studied in total. Eight rats were treated with variable "doses" of coulombs, and the systemic and local effects were assessed; 2 rats were used as controls.


Seven rats tolerated the procedure well without morbidity or mortality, and one died immediately post procedure. One control rat died on induction of anaesthesia. Serum amylase and glucose were not significantly affected.


Electrolysis in the rat pancreas produced localised necrosis and appears both safe, and reproducible. This novel technique could offer significant advantages for patients with unresectable pancreatic tumours. The next stage of the study is to assess pancreatic electrolysis in a pig model, prior to human pilot studies.

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