Irreversible Electroporation for Locally Advanced Pancreatic Cancer

Florentine E.F. Timmer, Bart Geboers*, Alette H. Ruarus, Evelien A.C. Schouten, Sanne Nieuwenhuizen, Robbert S. Puijk, Jan J.J. de Vries, Martijn R. Meijerink, Hester J. Scheffer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Several minimally invasive image guided tumor ablation techniques have been added to the treatment spectrum for locally advanced pancreatic cancer (LAPC). Irreversible electroporation (IRE) might have a significant additive value in the management of this difficult-to-treat disease. As opposed to thermal ablative techniques, IRE induces cell death by the delivery of high-voltage electrical pulses. The electrical energy disrupts the cellular membrane integrity, causes loss of cellular homeostasis and ultimately results in cell death. The extracellular matrix of connective tissue in surrounding delicate structures such as bile ducts, bowel wall, and larger blood vessels is spared. The preservation of these structures makes IRE attractive for the treatment of pancreatic cancers that are unresectable due to their anatomical location (ie, LAPC and local recurrence after surgical resection). In addition to its cytoreductive abilities, evidence is emerging on IRE's capability to induce systemic immunomodulation through active in vivo vaccination against pancreatic cancer cells. These effects in combination with immunotherapy may offer a new treatment paradigm for tumors with low immunogenic potential like pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). This review discusses several practical and technical issues of IRE for LAPC: clinical evaluation, indications, patient preparations, procedural steps, imaging characteristics, clinical results, and “tricks of the trade” used to improve the safety and efficacy of the treatment. Future directions such as the combination of IRE with immunotherapy will be shortly addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100675
JournalTechniques in vascular and interventional radiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

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