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Experts at Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital now offers new, minimally invasive surgery with the NanoKnife IRE System, which is designed to treat soft tissue tumors.

The NanoKnife is the first medical technology to use irreversible electroporation, or IRE. IRE causes tumor cell death in soft tissue by opening permanent, nano-sized pores in the membranes of the cells. This irreversible damage causes cell death, while protecting critical and often delicate nearby structures such as ducts and blood vessels.

The technology was cleared by the FDA in late 2009 for use in the surgical ablation of soft tissue, which is defined as tissue that connects, supports or surrounds other structures and other organs of the body, including tendons, ligaments, skin, fat, muscle, nerve and blood vessels.

The procedure is done under general anesthesia. Guided by ultrasound images, a physician places small, IRE electrodes in soft tissue or around the tumor. The electrodes then send out a series of short, intense electrical pulses that irreversibly damage the cells in the ablation zone and they soon die. Because IRE is delivered in a minimally invasive or endoscopic approach, patients recover rapidly and are typically able to be discharged from the hospital within hours of the procedure.

NanoKnife is an alternative to thermal ablation therapies, which are also minimally invasive treatments offered at Beaumont.