Tumor Ablation Enhancement by Combining Radiofrequency Ablation and Irreversible Electroporation: An In Vitro 3D Tumor Study

  • Bing ZhangEmail author
  • Yongji Yang
  • Lujia Ding
  • Michael A. J. Moser
  • Edwin M. Zhang
  • Wenjun Zhang


We hypothesized and demonstrated for the first time that significant tumor ablation enhancement can be achieved by combining radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and irreversible electroporation (IRE) using a 3D cervical cancer cell model. Three RFA (43, 50, and 60 °C for 2 min) and IRE protocols (350, 700, and 1050 V/cm) were used to study the combining effect in the 3D tumor cell model. The in vitro experiment showed that both RFA enhanced IRE and IRE enhanced RFA can lead to a significant increase in the size of the ablation zone compared to IRE and RFA alone. It was also noted that the sequence of applying ablation energy (RFA → RE or IRE → RFA) affected the efficacy of tumor ablation enhancement. The electrical conductivity of 3D tumor was found to be increased after preliminary RFA or IRE treatment. This increase in tumor conductivity may explain the enhancement of tumor ablation. Another explanation might be that there is repeat injury to the transitional zone of the first treatment by the second one. The promising results achieved in the study can provide us useful clues about the treatment of large tumors abutting large vessels or bile ducts.


3D tumor cell model Irreversible electroporation In vitro Radiofrequency ablation Tumor ablation enhancement 



This article was supported by 111 Project (D18003) of China. The first author (BZ) received financial support from National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 81801795), and the last author (WZ) was supported by National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada through Discovery Grant (Grant No. 417649).


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tumor Ablation Group, Biomedical Science and Technology Research Center, School of Mechatronic Engineering and AutomationShanghai UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.School of Mechanical and Power EngineeringEast China University of Science and TechnologyShanghaiChina
  3. 3.Department of SurgeryUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  4. 4.Division of Vascular & Interventional Radiology, Department of Medical ImagingUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

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