Dr. Farzad Alemi practices patience and precision in the operating room. But for this Truman Medical Centers Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary (HPB) Surgeon, the survival rates for patients suffering from advanced liver and pancreatic cancer were not advancing quickly enough.
That is where Dr. Alemi’s training, and a state-of-the-art piece of equipment known as the NanoKnife, come into play. The NanoKnife uses irreversible electroporation to kill cancer cells in the pancreas and liver. “It generates strong electrical fields across surgically-placed electrodes to poke holes in cancer cells. And while it doesn’t generate heat—making it perfect to treat cancers next to critical blood vessels—it does generate cellular death,” explains Dr. Alemi.
“Once the electrical current creates holes in the cellular membrane, the cancer cell’s DNA leaks out. Its proteins leak out. All the contents leak out. Now you have a cell without machinery, and hopefully without the ability to grow and divide. This technology allows tumors which are next to or invading into critical veins and arteries—advanced tumors which are oftentimes considered incurable—to be treated as well. Because blood vessels are typically composed of connective tissue rather than cells, their structural integrity will remain intact despite the electrical current.”
In Kansas City, the NanoKnife technology is only available at Truman Medical Centers. It was generously gifted to TMC by the Hall Family Foundation.
Dr. Alemi has operated on five patients with pancreatic or liver cancer since he started using NanoKnife at Truman Medical Centers in September, offering patients a chance at survival when traditional techniques might have not been an option. “At the end of the day, patients need hope, and this technology gives them another treatment option to battle aggressive cancers.”