Irreversible electroporation as treatment of locally advanced and as margin accentuation in borderline resectable pancreatic adenocarcinoma

P. Marsanic, A. Mellano, A. Sottile, M. De Simone

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In recent years, many local ablation technologies based on thermal damage have been used in the treatment of locally advanced pancreatic carcinoma (LAPC) and borderline resectable pancreatic carcinoma (BLRPC). However, they are associated with major complications because of possible vascular and ductal damage. Irreversible electroporation (IRE) is a nonthermal ablation technology that seems safe near vital vascular and ductal structures. IRE could be used as exclusive treatment of LAPC (en situ to IRE) after induction chemotherapy In BLRPC, surgery is not really radical in 6% of patients (microscopic residual) and local recurrences occur in 11–42% of apparent radical resections. IRE could be used as margin accentuation to increase posterior margin during radical surgery in BLRPC. Our outcomes are safety, time to progression. Secondary outcomes are overall survival, pain control and quality of life. We are performing a prospective evaluation of patients undergoing IRE for LAPC or BLRPC since July 2014. We have included patients with non-metastatic LAPC with maximum size ≤4 cm (en situ to IRE) and patients with BLRPC (complementary IRE). We have performed induction chemotherapy in both groups. After treatment, patients were evaluated on days 1, 2, 4, 7, 14, 21, 30, 60 and 90 with amylase and lipase serum and abdominal drainage test. Based on Ethics Committee’s request, follow-up imaging was performed at the 10th day for safety evaluation, at 30, 60 and 90 days for response evaluation and then every 3 months. Seven patients (two women and five men) underwent IRE. Two patients had LAPC and received en situ to IRE. In five patients affected by BLRPC we performed IRE and pancreatic head resection. In all patients, intraoperative imaging confirmed that the treatment of the whole tumor volume was complete. All seven patients demonstrated nonclinically relevant elevation of their amylase and lipase, which returned normal at 5 days postprocedure. No patient showed evidence of clinical pancreatitis or fistula. No major complications were recorded. Patients with LAPC died of distant metastases 6 month after treatment. At 3- and 6-month follow-up, all patients with BLPRC were alive and disease free. Only one patient has already reached 9-month follow-up and is alive and disease free. Our results are only preliminary. However, IRE ablation of LAPC and BLRPC seems a safe and feasible treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1123-1127
Number of pages5
JournalMedical and Biological Engineering and Computing
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Borderline resectable pancreas cancer
  • IRE
  • Irreversible electroporation
  • Locally advanced pancreas cancer
  • Pancreas cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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