Sunday, May 20, 2012

IRE: Minimally Invasive Treatment for Inoperable Tumors

[Catholic Data editor: Why isn't this technique being used for breast caner? It would seem the obvious candidate ]

Baltimore, MD – May 26, 2011. Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center are using a new minimally invasive technique to treat soft tissue tumors in the liver, lung, prostate, head and neck, kidney and pancreas. [Catholic Data editor: Could it be possibly for  breast cancer? it seems to be a soft tissue easily accessible]

The process, known as Irreversible Electroporation (IRE), offers another option for patients who have cancerous tumors that are close to blood vessels, ducts or nerves that may otherwise be damaged using other techniques, such as burning through radio frequency/microwave ablation, freezing through cryotherapy or traditional open surgery. The University of Maryland Medical Center is one of fewer than 30 hospitals in the United States offering this treatment option and is the only facility in the mid-Atlantic region currently using the approach.

“IRE uses electrical energy to target tumors at the cellular level. Using short electrical pulses, IRE breaks open the tumor cell walls, causing these cancer cells to die,” explains Ziv Haskal, M.D., professor of diagnostic radiology and surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and chief of vascular and interventional radiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

“The key difference with IRE compared to other treatments is that this electrical field does not produce extreme heat or cold. It may selectively damage the cancerous cells, sparing healthy tissue and structures that may be nearby, allowing us to provide more targeted treatment,” adds Dr. Haskal.
Doctors create a precise electrical field by first mapping the tumor using state-of-the-art computed tomography (CT) technology. The interventional radiologists have a CT scanner in the treatment room, so they are able to make up-to-the minute calculations on the size and location of the tumor.

“Once we determine the treatment area, we insert the electrode probes through the skin into the tumor, creating a field around the lesion. We then send short, intense electrical pulses - each less than 100 microseconds - between the probes, killing the tumor cells. Then the body’s normal healing response takes over, naturally producing new cells and absorbing the cells that have been targeted,” says Fred Moeslein, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and interventional radiologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center.