Abdominal Radiology

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 457–466 | Cite as

Irreversible electroporation of pancreatic adenocarcinoma: a primer for the radiologist

  • M. Farzan Rashid
  • Elizabeth M. Hecht
  • Jonathan A. Steinman
  • Michael D. KlugerEmail author


Irreversible electroporation (IRE) is increasingly used for the ablation of unresectable locally advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Unlike other ablation technologies that cannot be safely used around critical vasculature or ducts for risk of thermal damage, IRE uses high-voltage pulses to disrupt cellular membranes. This causes cell death by apoptosis and inflammation. IRE has been deployed by both open and percutaneous approaches. Generator parameters are the same for both approaches, and settings are pancreas specific. Variations in settings, probe placement, and probe exposure can result in thermal damage or reversible electroporation and resultant treatment failure, morbidity, or mortality. When used properly, IRE appears to improve overall survival and local recurrence, but does not influence the rate of distant recurrence. However, studies of both open and percutaneous approaches have been relatively small, non-controlled, and without appropriate comparisons. It is challenging for the radiologist to interpret treatment effects after IRE because of a dearth of guiding literature and pathologic correlates. This primer describes technical aspects, pathology correlates, post-IRE imaging, and outcomes for percutaneous and open approaches.


Pancreatic adenocarcinoma Irreversible electroporation Interventional radiology Computed tomography Percutaneous Ablation techniques 



Irreversible electroporation


Locally advanced pancreatic cancer


Author Contribution

All authors contributed to the conception or design of the project, assisted with acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data, drafted and/or revised the manuscript and had final approval of the version to be published. All authors agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity may be resolved.

Compliance with ethical standards


No funding was received for this study.

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Farzan Rashid
    • 1
  • Elizabeth M. Hecht
    • 2
  • Jonathan A. Steinman
    • 2
  • Michael D. Kluger
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Gastrointestinal and Endocrine Surgery, Department of SurgeryColumbia University College of Physicians and SurgeonsNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Division of Abdominal Imaging, Department of RadiologyColumbia University College of Physicians and SurgeonsNew YorkUSA

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