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Treatments & Specialties

Irreversible Electroporation (NanoKnife)

Opening Hours:
Contact:Catherine Verge / Jane Amado
Telephone:20 7234 2730

Irreversible Electroporation is treatment for liver and pancreatic tumours. NanoKnife® is the brand name for the machine used to deliver the treatment.

What is irreversible electroporation (IRE) and how does it work?

Irreversible electroporation (IRE) is a treatment that involves inserting needles into and around the cancer. High voltage electrical currents are passed between the needles. These currents damage and destroy the cancer cells. IRE aims to shrink and try to destroy the cancer. This can help to control symptoms, such as pain. It also aims to help people live longer. For a small number of people, it may shrink the cancer enough for surgery to be possible. The procedure is performed by an Interventional radiologist in CT scanner suite under general anaesthesia.

What cancers can be treated with IRE?

IRE has been widely used in some cancer centres in North America and Europe for treating inoperable pancreatic tumours and for treating Liver tumours that are unsuitable for conventional treatments. It has also been used for treating kidney and prostate cancers. It’s important to remember that there has not been much research into IRE. The initial studies from America and Europe have shown promising results. Larger studies and clinical trials are required to fully understand the efficacy of the treatment. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has said that at the moment IRE should only be used in research studies looking at how well it controls pancreatic cancer.

How do I know if I am suitable for Nanoknife?

Whether it’s suitable for you may depend on your own situation. For example, you will need to be fit enough to have a general anaesthetic. It may also depend on what other treatments you’ve already had, or how big the tumour is and if there is any spread outside the organ of origin. Speak to your doctor if you have had a metal stent fitted. These are used to treat a blocked duodenum (first part of the small intestines) or bile duct. It may still be possible to have IRE if you have a metal stent – but there may be a higher risk of problems or side effects, and the treatment may not work so well. Plastic stents don’t cause problems with IRE.

How can I have IRE at London Bridge Hospital?

Your clinical team or your GP can refer you to the Liver Centre at London Bridge Hospital. Please contact liver secretaries Catherine Verge Catherine.Verge@HCAHealthcare.co.uk or Jane Amado Jane.Amado@hcahealthcare.co.uk alternatively call 020 7234 2730 .