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J Am Coll Surg. 2012 Sep;215(3):361-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2012.05.021. Epub 2012 Jun 21.

Irreversible electroporation therapy in the management of locally advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

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Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery and James Graham Brown Cancer Center, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY 40202, USA.



Locally advanced pancreatic cancer patients have limited options for disease control. Local ablation technologies based on thermal damage have been used but are associated with major complications in this region of the pancreas. Irreversible electroporation (IRE) is a nonthermal ablation technology that we have shown is safe near vital vascular and ductal structures. The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of IRE as a therapy in the treatment of locally advanced pancreatic cancer.


We performed a prospective multi-institutional pilot evaluation of patients undergoing IRE for locally advanced pancreatic cancer from December 2009 to March 2011. These patients were evaluated for 90-day morbidity, mortality, and local disease control.


Twenty-seven patients (13 women and 14 men) underwent IRE, with median age of 61 years (range 45 to 80 years). Eight patients underwent margin accentuation with IRE in combination with left-sided resection (n = 4) or pancreatic head resection (n = 4). Nineteen patients had in situ IRE. All patients underwent successful IRE, with intraoperative imaging confirming effective delivery of therapy. All 27 patients demonstrated nonclinically relevant elevation of their amylase and lipase, which peaked at 48 hours and returned to normal at 72 hour postprocedure. There has been one 90-day mortality. No patient has shown evidence of clinical pancreatitis or fistula formation. After all patients have completed 90-day follow-up, there has been 100% ablation success.


IRE ablation of locally advanced pancreatic cancer tumors is a safe and feasible primary local treatment in unresectable, locally advanced disease. Confirming these early results must occur in a planned phase II investigational device exemption (IDE) study to be initiated in 2012.

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