Irreversible electroporation of stage 3 locally advanced pancreatic cancer: optimal technique and outcomes

Robert C. G. Martin II


Objective: Irreversible electroporation (IRE) of stage 3 pancreatic adenocarcinoma has been used to provide quality of life time in patients who have undergone appropriate induction therapy. The optimal technique has been reported within the literature, but not in video form. IRE of locally advanced pancreatic cancer is technically demanding requiring precision ultrasound use for continuous imaging in multiple needle placements and during IRE energy delivery.
Methods: Appropriate patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer should have undergone appropriate induction chemotherapy for a reasonable duration. The safe and effective technique for irreversible electroporation is preformed through an open approach with the emphasis on intra-operative ultrasound and intra-operative electroporation management.
Results: The technique of open irreversible electroporation of the pancreas involves bracketing the target tumor with IRE probes and any and all invaded vital structures including the celiac axis, superior mesenteric artery (SMA), superior mesenteric-portal vein, and bile duct with continuous intraoperative ultrasound imaging through a caudal to cranial approach. Optimal IRE delivery requires a change in amperage of at least 12 amps from baseline tissue conductivity in order to achieve technical success. Multiple pull-backs are necessary since the IRE ablation probe lengths are 1 cm and thus needed to achieve technical success along the caudal to cranial plane.
Conclusions: Irreversible electroporation in combination with multi-modality therapy for locally advanced pancreatic carcinoma is feasible for appropriate patients with locally advanced cancer. Technical demands are high and require the highest quality ultrasound for precise spacing measurements and optimal delivery to ensure adequate change in tissue resistance.