What Is the NanoKnife and Who Can It Help?

We’re in an era of new technological advances and many of these innovations are helping us diagnose and treat illnesses. One such invention is the NanoKnife and it’s something that is capable of changing the lives of millions of cancer patients. Continue reading to learn more about this remarkable new invention.

What is the NanoKnife?

In spite of the name, the NanoKnife isn’t an actual knife, as people might expect. Instead, it’s more similar to a probe that uses electrical energy to break up cancerous tumors. The probe sends a low current, high voltage pulse, which drills tiny holes, or pores, in the membrane of the cell. These pores are permanent and lead to the cell swelling and ultimately dying. During the procedure, either ultrasound or CT guidance is used to direct up to six of these probes to the area surrounding the tumor.
For the patient, the experience is largely noninvasive, though that may depend on the type of procedure. Sometimes, it can be done right through the skin, while other procedures may require a surgical operation. In either case, the patient will have to submit to general anesthesia.

The Benefits of the NanoKnife

When it comes to the advantages of NanoKnife cancer surgery, one of the biggest benefits is that it can destroy a tumor without negatively affecting vascular and ductal structures. This makes it especially helpful in treating tumors that are in locations that would otherwise be difficult to reach through conventional surgery. Unlike extreme heat or cold, which are other methods for killing tumors, the electrical current used by the NanoKnife won’t harm surrounding cell tissue.

Additionally, the NanoKnife doesn’t leave incisions that need to be healed, nor does it produce post-procedural pain. These benefits work together to promise shorter hospital stays and overall shorter recovery times. In general, there are far fewer side effects than those experienced by patients who undergo other procedures for the termination of cancerous cells. This means the procedure can be repeated at far less risk, if the patient experiences the development of another tumor.

In cases where the procedure can be performed through the skin and without a surgical operation, the treatment can be completed on an outpatient basis. The process lasts about four to six hours and, after recovering, the individual can go home, though they may need someone to drive for them. The patient’s doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to prevent any infections, following the procedure.

The NanoKnife procedure is often recommended to patients who may not be eligible for other forms of treatment, though it may become more widely used in the future. As it uses high voltage electrical pulses, patients with nerve stimulators, cardiac pacemakers, or those with an abnormal heartbeat cannot undergo the treatment. Otherwise, the NanoKnife may be a preferred option for those who need treatment of cancerous tumors. Since the pulses can be sent almost anywhere in the body, tumors in hard to reach places may no longer pose a special problem. The NanoKnife can kill those tumors with little risk to the patient.