Application of Irreversible Electroporation Ablation as Adjunctive Treatment for Margin Enhancement: Safety and Efficacy

Erika Simmerman, Jane Chung, Andrew Lawson, Edward James Kruse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Irreversible electroporation (IRE) is a relatively new ablation technique utilized as focal therapy to target areas of significant tumor burden to ablate tumors in situ or improve margins of resection. Its application has largely been reported in the pancreas, liver, kidney, and prostate. Because locoregional therapy is becoming more common, IRE may be a reasonable alternative in additional situations if shown to be safe and efficacious. We have utilized IRE intraoperatively in highly selected patients for adjunctive treatment of primary and metastatic tumors at the time of surgical resection to achieve local control where an R1 resection is clinically felt to be likely. We hypothesize that IRE is a safe and effective adjuvant therapy. Our primary objective was to evaluate the safety of IRE with regard to the effects of other structures within the ablated zone. A secondary objective was to estimate local control rates of locally advanced tumors when IRE was used as an adjunct for margin enhancement. Methods: This is a retrospective chart review of a prospective database at a single tertiary institution. The study included patients receiving IRE from November 2013 through May 2016 at the time of resection of tumor resection for margin enhancement. Primary tumors included liver, pancreatic, retroperitoneal, extremity, and pelvic tumors. Patients undergoing treatment for palliation or in situ ablation were excluded. Results: Forty patients received IRE for margin enhancement. Median follow-up was 14 mo. Three patients (7.5%) had a local recurrence, and 12 (30%) had a distant recurrence. Adverse events possibly related to IRE are described. Conclusions: Our institution demonstrated a low local recurrence rate of only 7.5% in patients treated with intraoperative IRE for margin enhancement. This may be a useful adjunct at the time of surgical resection to help achieve local control in difficult areas where an R1 resection is likely. This topic will require further investigation with prospective trials and longer follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)260-268
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Focal adjunctive cancer therapy
  • Hepatobiliary cancer
  • Irreversible electroporation ablation
  • Margin enhancement in cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Sarcoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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