A new system that treats pancreatic and liver cancers has been used for the first time by Kevin Watkins, chief of the Upper Gastrointestinal and General Oncologic Surgery Group, Stony Brook University Medical Center.

Irreversible electroporation (IRE), also referred to as NanoKnife, is a minimally invasive surgical technique that uses electrical fields to poke holes in tumours and kill the cancer.

A major advantage of the IRE is that it does not generate heat or cold, which could damage normal adjacent tissues.

The combination of minimally invasive surgery and IRE allows faster recovery with less tissue injury and, it is hoped, a better long-term outcome than traditional surgery.

Electroporation is the process of using brief and controlled electric pulses to open microscopic pores in a targeted area and electroporation can be made permanent or irreversible by increasing the number, strength and duration of electric pulses.

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