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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

NanoKnife® for liver cancer

NanoKnife for liver cancer

NanoKnife is a minimally invasive option for some liver cancer patients with an inoperable tumor that is typically less than three centimeters.

What is NanoKnife®?

NanoKnife® may provide a minimally invasive option for patients with inoperable or difficult-to-reach tumors, including tumors located near critical structures and major blood vessels. Instead of using extreme heat or cold, which could damage normal adjacent tissues, the NanoKnife System uses electrical currents to destroy cancerous tumors.

Potential benefits of NanoKnife include:

  • No open incisions
  • Less damage to healthy tissue
  • Minimal postoperative pain
  • Fewer side effects
  • Short hospital stay
  • Quick post-operative recovery
  • Ability to repeat the procedure if new tumors develop

How it works

Instead of using microwave energy, extreme heat or extreme cold, the NanoKnife system uses electrical currents to treat tumors.

While the patient is under general anesthesia, the interventional radiologist carefully guides up to six thin needles (electrodes) into the patient’s body and strategically places them around the tumor. Then, the NanoKnife System sends electrical pulses or currents between each set of needles to puncture permanent nanometer-sized holes into the tumor. This process, called irreversible electroporation (IRE), causes the cancer cells to be unbalanced and triggers a cell “suicide,” thereby destroying the tumor.

The electrical pulses are contained between the electrodes, minimizing damage to surrounding healthy cell tissue, blood vessels and other important structures. After the tumor is destroyed, the body naturally rids itself of the dead cells, which are replaced with healthy cells.

The procedure lasts from two to four hours and is performed on an outpatient basis. The patient may also given antibiotics before and after the procedure to prevent infection.

NanoKnife may be a treatment option for patients who are not candidates for conventional treatments or if other treatments were not effective. Patients with a cardiac pacemaker, abnormal heartbeat or nerve stimulators are not eligible for this procedure.