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New tumor ablation therapy treatment for cancer patients offered at UAB

by Alicia Rohan

UAB is the only site in the state of Alabama to offer the NanoKnife treatment.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Radiology is utilizing a special technology to help with tumor ablation therapy called the NanoKnife.  

The NanoKnife is a minimally invasive, image-guided procedure performed by an interventional radiology physician that uses electricity to destroy cancer cells. Thin needles inserted through the skin under imaging guidance near the patient’s tumor send currents between the needles to help destroy tumors and allow physicians to treat tumors in difficult locations. The treatment does not destroy the surrounding tissue near the tumor, which is good for tumors that are near critical structures and blood vessels.

“The NanoKnife ablation system represents another important tool for patients who are battling cancer,” said A.J. Gunn, M.D., associate professor of radiology and director of the UAB Interventional Oncology Program. “As treatments become more personalized, it is important to have a variety of options that can meet each patient’s treatment goals. This ablation system allows the interventional radiology physician to precisely target a tumor in the liver, lung, kidney, breast or soft tissues for destruction while sparing normal structures that might otherwise be harmed.”

When used in experienced hands, it is a safe and effective option for appropriately selected patients. This technique adds an extra layer of safety for the patient, is less invasive and saves them from having to go through traditional surgery.

Gunn says UAB is fortunate to have not only the technology, but also the expertise in its applications for patient care.

“Our interventional radiology program is composed of a group of experts who excel in procedures across all organ systems, including those who specialize in cancer care,” said Theresa Caridi, M.D., associate professor in the UAB Department of Radiology, division director of Interventional Radiology and vice chair of Interventional Affairs. “This group demonstrates their expertise not only with the treatment they provide, but also in advancing research.”

Patients should discuss the treatment option of percutaneous or image-guided ablation with their physician. UAB is the only facility in the state of Alabama performing this procedure.

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