Irreversible electroporation (IRE) is a new technology used to destroy cancerous tumors. The surgeons in Mount Sinai's Division of Surgical Oncology were among the first in New York City to adopt this innovative technology and have received specialized training in the performance of IRE.
IRE is performed by inserting one or more thin probes into the tumor. Next, short electrical pulses are delivered into the tumor, causing disruption of pores located within the membranes of cancer cells. Opening of these pores interferes with cellular function, causing irreversible damage which leads to cell death and tumor necrosis.
The main advantage of IRE over other ablative techniques is that it does not rely on thermal energy for its effect. IRE produces no heat and has no detrimental effect on blood vessels, ducts, or intestines. As a result, IRE can be safely performed on tumors that are near critical structures without the risk of heat-induced damage.
IRE has been successfully used in several tumor types, but is particularly valuable in the treatment of pancreatic cancer, since this tumor can be resistant to chemotherapy and other modes of therapy.
At Mount Sinai, our surgical oncologists consider IRE in various clinical situations, such as:
- Margin accentuation for resectable tumors: When performing pancreatic resection, it is crucial to remove the tumor entirely without leaving any portion of the cancer behind. Certain patients, whose tumors are located near major blood vessels, have a greater risk of margins being involved with tumor. Our surgical oncologists use IRE to induce tumor necrosis prior to surgical resection. This technique of margin accentuation allows our surgeons to be more confident that all cancerous tissue has been removed or destroyed.
- Ablation for non-resectable tumors: IRE can also be used as a complement to chemotherapy and radiation in patients whose tumors are not able to be removed by surgery. Patients with pancreatic cancer have not traditionally been candidates for ablative therapies because this tumor is often wrapped around critical structures that would be damaged by thermal ablative techniques. Using IRE, Mount Sinai's surgeons are able to add a novel treatment to help induce tumor necrosis.
Mount Sinai Surgical Associates
Division of Surgical Oncology
1470 Madison Ave, 3rd Fl
New York, NY 10029