Medical Policy
Subject: Irreversible Electroporation
Document #: SURG.00126Publish Date: 07/06/2022
Status: ReviewedLast Review Date: 05/12/2022

This document addresses use of irreversible electroporation (IRE, also known as pulsed field ablation [PFA]). This document exclusively addresses all uses of irreversible electroporation (IRE), as a specific form of tissue ablation.

Note: For information related to other ablative techniques for cancer treatment, please see:

Position Statement

Investigational and Not Medically Necessary:

Irreversible electroporation is considered investigational and not medically necessary for all indications, including, but not limited to, ablation of soft tissue or of solid organs, such as the liver and pancreas.


The published evidence addressing IRE to date has consisted of studies with limited methodologies and low power. One single-center, prospective, nonrandomized cohort study was performed to investigate the safety of IRE for tumor ablation in 38 humans with advanced malignancy of the liver, kidney, or lung (Thomson, 2011). Transient ventricular arrhythmia occurred in 4 subjects, and electrocardiographically (ECG) synchronized delivery was used subsequently in the remaining 30 participants with occurrence of two further arrhythmias (supraventricular tachycardia and atrial fibrillation). One subject developed obstruction of the upper ureter after IRE. One adrenal gland was unintentionally directly electroporated, which produced transient severe hypertension. There was no other evidence of adjacent organ damage related to the electroporation. Only 30-day outcomes were reported. Although not a primary aim of this preliminary study, complete target tumor ablation verified by computed tomography (CT) was achieved in 46 of the 69 tumors treated with IRE (66%). Most treatment failures occurred in renal and lung tumors. Biopsy in 3 subjects showed coagulative necrosis in the regions treated by IRE. The authors concluded, “IRE appears to be safe for human clinical use provided ECG-synchronized delivery is used. Comparative evaluation with alternative ablative technologies is warranted”.

The use of IRE in combination with chemotherapy, also referred to as electrochemotherapy, has been reported in several studies. One retrospective study (He, 2020) described the results in 132 subjects with advanced pancreatic cancer treated with chemotherapy plus IRE (n=36) vs. chemotherapy alone (n=96). Due to significant differences between groups at baseline, 36 pairs of subjects were obtained from the study population after propensity score matching (PSM) analysis. Subjects who received chemotherapy combined with IRE treatment had significantly higher cumulative 1-year and 2-year overall survival (OS) rates than subjects who received chemotherapy alone (p<0.001). After the PSM analysis the 1-year and 2-year OS rates were 89.8% and 77.2% in the chemotherapy plus IRE group, respectively, and 18.1% and 18.1% in the chemotherapy group, respectively (p< 0.001). Median progression free survival (PFS) was 7.1 months in the chemotherapy plus IRE group and 4.9 months in the chemotherapy group after the finish of induction therapy (p<0.001). Similar results were reported after PSM (p<0.001). Subjects in the chemotherapy group were 4.45 times more likely to have decreased PFS than subjects in the chemotherapy plus IRE group. Two cases with pancreatic fistula and one case of biliary fistula were observed in the IRE group, with no intra-abdominal hemorrhage in subjects after IRE therapy. Larger, prospective, randomized trials are needed to confirm this study’s results.

Verloh (2019) reported the results of a retrospective study involving 164 subjects with hepatocellular carcinoma treated with either thermal ablation via microwave or radiofrequency ablation (RFA) (n=117) vs. IRE (n=47). In the post-operative period, 17.9% of subjects experienced post-ablation syndrome in thermal ablation group vs. 14.9% in the IRE group (p=0.607). No significant differences between groups were reported with regard to the occurrence or the severity of a complication (p=0.864). The primary efficacy endpoint, defined as the percentage of target tumors successfully eradicated by the 6-week follow-up, was 84.3% in the thermal ablation group and 67.2% in the IRE group (no p-value provided). The authors concluded that their results suggest that thermal ablation with microwave or RFA vs. IRE ablation have comparable complication rates. No long-term health outcomes data were provided and lack of statistical data regarding the primary outcome weaken the utility of this study. While the comparative nature of this trial is favorable, the retrospective nature, lack of randomization, lack of blinding and other methodological weaknesses prevents the generalization of these findings.

A prospective trial involving 74 subjects with locally advanced pancreatic cancer (LAPC) treated with IRE was published by Yang (2020). A total of 69 procedures (93%) were performed by the laparotomic method, and the remainder were conducted by the laparoscopic approach. A total of 42 subjects (57%) received a gemcitabine-based induction chemotherapy regimen, and the other 32 subjects (43%) received an oral TS-1 regimen (tegafur, gimeracil, and oteracil). A total of 30 IRE-related complications were reported in 13 subjects (17.6%), including 7 (23.3%) Clavien- Dindo Grade I, 14 (46.7%) Clavien-Dindo Grade II, and 9 (30%) Clavien-Dindo Grade III complications. In a multivariate analysis using Cox regression for adverse events, two significant predictors were identified, electrode placement direction (anteroposterior vs craniocaudal, HR [hazard ratio]: 4.194, p<0.004) and GI tract tumor involvement (with GI tract involvement vs. without GI tract involvement HR: 15.73, p<0.002). The median serum CA19-9 level was significantly decreased after induction chemotherapy (p<0.001) and 3 months after IRE (p<0.001). There were no cases of post-IRE mortality during the same admission period and 3 months after IRE. Nine (12.2%) subjects developed local recurrence, and 30 subjects (40.5%) developed distant metastasis. The PFS rates in 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years were 69.1%, 48.7%, and 28.8%, respectively, and the OS rates in 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years were 97.2%, 53%, and 31.2%, respectively. The authors concluded, “This study showed that combined induction chemotherapy and surgical IRE for LAPC is safe. For well-selected patients, IRE can achieve encouraging survival outcomes”. However, a complication rate of 17.6% should not be overlooked. Entry into this trial was limited to individuals who had responded to initial induction chemotherapy. Results may not be applicable to other individuals. Further prospective, randomized investigation is warranted to understand the risks and benefits of this treatment.

Edhemovic (2020) reported a prospective phase II study of electrochemotherapy in 39 subjects with 84 metachronous colorectal liver metastases. Electrochemotherapy was performed during open surgery using bleomycin administered intravenously and electrodes having fixed geometry (59 metastases) or variable geometry (25 metastases). The procedure was feasible and safe in all subjects, with no immediate or delayed IRE-related adverse events reported. According to the mRECIST criteria, objective response rate was 75% for the 84 treated metastases (23% partial response). The median follow-up was 330 days. The response per subject was 44.0% complete response (CR), 15.0% PR, 2.5% stable disease (SD), and 38.5% progressive disease (PD). In subjects who had two or more metastases treated, a lower complete response rate per subject was observed (44.0%) due to the partial or lack of response of some metastases. The response of smaller metastases (up to 3 cm in diameter) was significantly better compared to the larger metastases (larger than 3 cm; p<0.035). No differences in response were noted in subjects with peripheral vs. centrally located tumors. Subjects with a good response to IRE also had significantly slower progression locally or systemically (p<0.0016) than subjects with progressive disease. These results are promising, but investigation in a larger, more generalizable population is needed.

A small prospective, single-arm, phase II clinical trial was conducted at two centers to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of IRE as a treatment for lung cancers which failed to meet primary and secondary endpoints. The expected effectiveness was not met at interim analysis, and the trial was stopped prematurely after inclusion of 23 subjects (Ricke, 2015).

Meijerink (2021) reported the results of the prospective, phase-2, single-arm COLDFIRE-2 trial investigating the use of IRE in 51 subjects with colorectal cancer liver metastases 5.0 cm or smaller that were unsuitable for surgical resection or thermal ablation. Percutaneous IRE was conducted in 39 subjects, 14 of whom underwent concurrent thermal ablation. Open IRE was conducted in 12 subjects, 1 of which underwent additional surgery, 3 of which underwent concurrent thermal ablation, and 6 underwent concurrent thermal ablation and surgery. Subjects were followed for 12 months after the initial IRE. Retreatment with IRE was reported in 8 subjects, 6 with local tumor progression of a previously IRE-treated tumor and 2 with new tumors. Cases with recurrence of disease were treated with repeat IRE (n=12), thermal ablation (n=3), stereotactic body radiation therapy (n=3), or selective internal radiation therapy (n=1). Concomitant treatment with systemic therapy for disease progression was reported in 25 subjects during the follow-up period. Overall, 76 tumors were treated with IRE, including repeat treatment and new metastases. Adverse events were reported in 23 subjects with a total of 34 total events, resulting in a 40% overall complication rate. Reported events included infection (n=5), pneumothorax (n=3), periprocedural cardiac arrythmia (n=4), portal vein thrombosis (n=3) and biliary obstruction (n=3). At 1 year, 34 of the 50 participants (68%) were alive without long term progression. The per-tumor 1-year long term progression free survival rate was 79%. Median distant progression-free survival was 5.3 months (95% CI: 2.5, 8.1). The most frequent site of first recurrence was the liver. Following repeat procedures, local tumor control was eventually achieved in 74% of subjects. The authors reported that for long term progression, the hazard ratio after univariable analysis was 2.5 (p=0.03) for participants with an American Society of Anesthesiologists score greater than 2, and 3.6 (p=0.004) for primary rectal tumors. They concluded “Irreversible electroporation was effective and relatively safe for colorectal liver metastases 5.0 cm or smaller that were unsuitable for partial hepatectomy, thermal ablation, or further systemic treatment”. However, these results are limited in the lack of control group and blinding, as well as the use of concurrent procedures with IRE. Additionally, the predefined threshold in the sample size calculation was chosen arbitrarily.

Freeman (2021) reported a comparative trial involving the use of IRE in 18 subjects (25 tumors) vs. 81 propensity-matched subjects (149 tumors) who underwent RFA for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma. In total, 190 ablations took place (n=31 IRE and n=159 RFA). All but 2 of the procedures were conducted by a single surgeon. Median follow-up time was 19.4 months in the IRE group vs. 13.2 months in the RFA group. At baseline, the RFA cohort had significantly worse liver function with regard to MELD scores (7 vs. 10, p<0.001) and Child Pugh Grade (88% vs 58.8% Grade A, p=0.02). Two (8%) of the IRE lesions and 4 (2.7%) of the RFA lesions required a second ablation in order to achieve complete remission (CR, p=0.18). After propensity score matching, a total of 121 lesions (25 IRE and 96 RFA) were analyzed for local recurrence free survival (LRFS), and rate was similar between groups (40% IRE lesions vs. 28% RFA lesions, p=0.25). No significant differences between groups were noted with regard to LRFS after adjusting for MELD scores using Cox regression (HR, 1.14; p=0.71). Similarly, no differences between groups were reported when lesion size was taken into consideration (< 3 cm, p=0.79 or < 2 cm, p=0.99). There were no major procedure-related complications or deaths in either group. Pain was reported in 36.8% of IRE subjects. Acute kidney injury, transient urinary retention and a small subcapsular hematoma secondary to needle insertion sites each occurred in single subjects. In the RFA group, pain was documented in 7.5% of subjects and single cases each of transient urinary retention, lower respiratory tract infection and minor bleeding were managed conservatively. The retrospective nature of this trial, lack of blinding or controls, conduct in a single treating center, as well as the low number of IRE subjects limit the generalizability of these findings.

Blazevski (2021) described the results of IRE treatment of 50 subjects with distal apical prostate cancer followed for at least 1 year post treatment. All procedures were conducted by a single surgeon. Median follow-up was 44 months. Forty-three subjects (86%) had intermediate-risk disease, 5 (10%) had low-risk disease and 2 (4%) had high-risk disease. With regard to adverse events, 10 subjects (20%) experienced dysuria, urgency, hematuria, and perineal pain. Nine subjects (18%) experienced complications including urinary tract infections, severe urgency/frequency or incontinence (Clavien–Dindo 2). Results of the Expanded Prostate Cancer Index Composite (EPIC) quality of life tool (QoL) were reported. The results indicated no statistically significant difference in urinary QoL at baseline and 12 months post-treatment (p=0.063). All subjects were dry at baseline, and none required leak protection pads at 24 months after treatment. However, 2 subjects (4%) required one pad at 3 months and only 1 (2%) required one pad at 12 months. No significant difference was observed in the bowel QoL domain between baseline and 12 months (p=0.066) and no rectal injuries or fistulae were reported. Results on the sexual QoL domain at baseline vs. 12 months indicated a significant decrease in sexual function, with 94% of subjects retaining sufficient function to engage in sexual intercourse post-IRE (p=0.001). No significant differences were reported with regard to urinary incontinence (p=0.439), urinary leakage (p=0.642), and erections sufficient for intercourse (p=0.894) post-treatment when the investigators compared treatment in the anterior vs. posterior segments of the prostate. Median PSA at 12 months decreased by 71% to 1.7 ng/mL. In-field recurrence at 12 months was reported in only 1 subject (2.5%). Out-of-field recurrence occurred in 8 (20%) subjects. Overall, 78% of subjects were free of significant disease after initial IRE and in subjects with greater than 3-year follow-up (n=40), the failure free survival at 3 years was 90%. The authors concluded that IRE for prostate cancer in the “distal apex appears safe and feasible with acceptable early QoL and oncologic outcomes.” However, several methodological issues limit the generalizability of these findings, including the use of retrospective data, lack of a control group or blinding, and performance of all procedures by a single surgeon.

In 2021 two meta-analyses were published addressing the use of IRE for the treatment of liver tumors. The report by Yu et al. included 26 studies (n=807 subjects and n=1115 lesions) and indicated that the pooled data indicated a complete ablation rate of 86% and complication rate of 23%. Gupta et al. reported on 25 studies (n=776, 15 prospective, 10 retrospective) and concluded that the pooled data showed that overall survival at 6, 12, 24, and 36 months was 93.28%, 81.29%, 61.47%, and 40.88%, respectively. The pooled progression-free survival at 6, 12, and 24 months was 79.72%, 64.19%, and 49.05% respectively. The overall complication rate was reported to be 23.7%, with major complications occurring in 6.9% of subjects. While these results are promising, the pooled results of poorly designed and conducted trials is still weak data, and investigation in the form of larger, well-designed and conducted trials is needed,

Additional case series studies of IRE use in locally advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma and liver tumors have been published; (Ansari, 2017; Bhutiani, 2016; Bujis, 2021; Distelmaier, 2017; Dollinger, 2015; Hosein, 2014; Kalra, 2019; Langan, 2017; Lyu, 2017; Mafeld, 2019; Niessen 2016 and 2017; Scheffer, 2017; Schicho, 2018; Stillström, 2019; Sutter, 2017; Tasu, 2017; Wah, 2021). While favorable results have been almost uniformly reported, the data from these studies is hampered by weak methodology and low power. Data from well-designed and conducted trials with long term follow-up is needed to fully assess the health outcomes resulting from IRE.

Other available publications addressing IRE include small retrospective chart reviews and prospective pilot studies addressing treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma and tumors of the pancreas, liver, and bile ducts (Belfiore, 2020; Cannon, 2013; Djokic, 2021; Guo, 2021; Hsiao, 2020; Kingham, 2012; Kwon, 2021; Lyons, 2021; Månsson, 2020; Martin, 2012 and 2018; Moir, 2014). Some of these studies have reported limited short-term improvements with high rates of adverse events and trends toward recurrence in larger tumors (over 4 cm) also noted.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology for pancreatic adenocarcinoma notes that, “The panel does not currently recommend IRE for treatment of locally advanced pancreatic cancer due to concerns about complications and technical expertise” (NCCN, V1.2022). Similarly, the NCCN guideline for hepatobiliary cancers (V5.2021) states, “Recurrences have been reported following IRE for large tumors. Larger studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of IRE for local HCC treatments.” Additional NCCN guidelines for other organs and malignancies do not address IRE.

IRE has been investigated for pulmonary vein isolation in subjects with atrial fibrillation. One case series study involving 10 subjects has been reported by Loh (2020). The authors of this methodologically weak study reported technical success with no reconnections or complications developing during the study period. Reddy and others (2018) reported on a larger case series involving 22 subjects who underwent atrial fibrillation ablation with IRE. They reported successful pulmonary vein isolation in 57 pulmonary veins of 15 subjects undergoing endocardial procedures (100%). In epicardial procedures, surgical box lesions were successful in 6 of 7 subjects (86%). There were no catheter-related complications, including deployment failure, cardiac perforation, or catheter entrapment. Additionally, there were no instances of atrial or ventricular tachyarrhythmias, as well as no evidence of significant repolarization abnormalities. The authors noted that IRE for pulmonary vein ablation was promising, but long-term results and safety data is needed from larger well-designed trials. This same group published another case series study involving 25 subjects who underwent pulmonary vein isolation with IRE of the cavotricuspid isthmus with adjunctive ablation of the left atrial posterior wall. Successful ablation in all subjects were reported, with post-procedure esophagogastroduodenoscopy and repeat cardiac computed tomography indicating no mucosal lesions or pulmonary vein narrowing. Invasive remapping demonstrated durable isolation (defined by entrance block) in 82 of 85 veins (96%) and 21 of 21 left atrial posterior wall (100%). The authors indicated that their study demonstrated good safety and feasibility of IRE for pulmonary vein isolation and ablation of the left atrial posterior wall, but they concluded that larger future trials will be necessary to confirm their study’s conclusions. Kawamura (2021)

There is currently inadequate evidence in the published literature to support the safety and efficacy of IRE or to demonstrate how treatment with this technology will impact clinical outcomes for any condition or indication.


IRE is a low energy, direct current, nonthermal ablative device system for use in performing minimally invasive procedures intended for the destruction of soft tissues. The procedure is done with the use of the NanoKnife Oncobionic System, which received initial clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on November 21, 2006 as a tissue ablation system indicated for surgical ablation of soft tissue, including cardiac and smooth muscle (FDA, 2006). Subsequent FDA clearance clarified the indications, “For the surgical ablation of soft tissue” (FDA, 2008). The NanoKnife System is classified by the FDA as an electrosurgical cutting and coagulation device (FDA, 2011).

Use of the NanoKnife Oncobionic System involves the process of using brief and controlled high voltage electric pulses to open microscopic pores in a targeted area. By increasing the number, strength, and duration of electric pulses, electroporation can be made permanent or irreversible. It is purported by the manufacturer that IRE technology allows for extreme precision in targeting soft-tissue cells of interest while blood vessels and other sensitive structures in the area remain functional.

On January 21, 2011 the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) issued a warning letter to the manufacturer, AngioDynamics, Inc. regarding the NanoKnife Oncobionic System branding and labeling indications listed on the manufacturer’s website. The FDA requested that the words, “treat,” “treatment,” and “therapy” be removed and replaced with the word “ablation” throughout the labeling for the device, since the FDA clearance is not for any specific disease or condition. The FDA also requested that a precise definition of “Irreversible Electroporation or IRE” be provided, since this term was not part of the initial FDA application (FDA, 2011). The information currently available on the FDA web site for the NanoKnife refers to IRE device as, “A low energy, direct current, non-thermal ablation device” (FDA, 2019).


Electroporation: The process of using brief and controlled electric pulses to open microscopic pores in a targeted area. By increasing the number, strength, and duration of electric pulses, electroporation can be made permanent or irreversible (IRE). After IRE, the pores in the cells remain open permanently with resultant microscopic damage to cells.


The following codes for treatments and procedures applicable to this document are included below for informational purposes. Inclusion or exclusion of a procedure, diagnosis or device code(s) does not constitute or imply member coverage or provider reimbursement policy. Please refer to the member's contract benefits in effect at the time of service to determine coverage or non-coverage of these services as it applies to an individual member.

When services are Investigational and Not Medically Necessary:




Ablation, irreversible electroporation; 1 or more tumors per organ, including imaging guidance, when performed, percutaneous


Ablation, irreversible electroporation; 1 or more tumors, including fluoroscopic and ultrasound guidance, when performed, open


Unlisted cardiovascular service or procedure [when specified as pulsed field ablation (PFA) or IRE for pulmonary vein isolation]



ICD-10 Procedure



Destruction of liver using irreversible electroporation [by approach; includes codes 0F500ZF, 0F503ZF, 0F504ZF]


Destruction of right lobe liver using irreversible electroporation [by approach; includes codes 0F510ZF, 0F513ZF, 0F514ZF]


Destruction of left lobe liver using irreversible electroporation [by approach; includes codes 0F520ZF, 0F523ZF, 0F524ZF]


Destruction of pancreas using irreversible electroporation [by approach; includes codes 0F5G0ZF, 0F5G3ZF, 0F5G4ZF]



ICD-10 Diagnosis



All diagnoses


Peer Reviewed Publications:

  1. Ansari D, Kristoffersson S, Andersson R, Bergenfeldt M. The role of irreversible electroporation (IRE) for locally advanced pancreatic cancer: A systematic review of safety and efficacy. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2017; 52(11):1165-1171.
  2. Ball C, Thomson KR, Kavnoudias H. Irreversible electroporation: a new challenge in "out of operating theater" anesthesia. Anesth Analg. 2010; 110(5):1305-1309.
  3. Belfiore MP, Ronza FM2, Romano F3, et al. Percutaneous CT-guided irreversible electroporation followed by chemotherapy as a novel neoadjuvant protocol in locally advanced pancreatic cancer: our preliminary experience. Int J Surg. 2015; 21 Suppl 1:S34-39.
  4. Belfiore MP, Reginelli A, Maggialetti N, et al. Preliminary results in unresectable cholangiocarcinoma treated by CT percutaneous irreversible electroporation: feasibility, safety and efficacy. Med Oncol. 2020; 37(5):45.
  5. Bhutiani N, Philips P, Scoggins CR, et al. Evaluation of tolerability and efficacy of irreversible electroporation (IRE) in treatment of Child-Pugh B (7/8) hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). HPB (Oxford). 2016; 18(7):593-599.
  6. Blazevski A, Amin A, Scheltema MJ, et al. Focal ablation of apical prostate cancer lesions with irreversible electroporation (IRE). World J Urol. 2021; 39(4):1107-1114.
  7. Buijs M, de Bruin DM, Wagstaff PG, et al. MRI and CT in the follow-up after irreversible electroporation of small renal masses. Diagn Interv Radiol. 2021; 27(5):654-663.
  8. Cannon R, Ellis S, Hayes D, et al. Safety and early efficacy of irreversible electroporation for hepatic tumors in proximity to vital structures. J Surg Oncol. 2013; 107(5):544-549.
  9. Distelmaier M, Barabasch A, Heil P, et al. Midterm safety and efficacy of irreversible electroporation of malignant liver tumors located close to major portal or hepatic veins. Radiology. 2017; 285(3):1023-1031.
  10. Djokic M, Cemazar M, Popovic P, et al. Electrochemotherapy as treatment option for hepatocellular carcinoma, a prospective pilot study. Eur J Surg Oncol. 2018; 44(5):651-657.
  11. Dollinger M, Beyer LP, Haimerl M, et al. Adverse effects of irreversible electroporation of malignant liver tumors under CT fluoroscopic guidance: a single-center experience. Diagn Interv Radiol. 2015; 21(6):471-475.
  12. Edhemovic I, Brecelj E, Cemazar M, et al. Intraoperative electrochemotherapy of colorectal liver metastases: a prospective phase II study. Eur J Surg Oncol. 2020; 46(9):1628-1633.
  13. Freeman E, Cheung W, Ferdousi S, et al. Irreversible electroporation versus radiofrequency ablation for hepatocellular carcinoma: a single centre propensity-matched comparison. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2021; 56(8):942-947.
  14. Frühling P, Nilsson A, Duraj F, et al. Single-center nonrandomized clinical trial to assess the safety and efficacy of irreversible electroporation (IRE) ablation of liver tumors in humans: Short to mid-term results. Eur J Surg Oncol. 2017; 43(4):751-757.
  15. Gomez FM, Patel PA, Stuart S, Roebuck DJ. Systematic review of ablation techniques for the treatment of malignant or aggressive benign lesions in children. Pediatr Radiol. 2014; 44(10):1281-1289.
  16. Guo X, Du F, Liu Q, et al. Immunological effect of irreversible electroporation on hepatocellular carcinoma. BMC Cancer. 2021; 21(1):443.
  17. Gupta P, Maralakunte M, Sagar S, et al. Efficacy and safety of irreversible electroporation for malignant liver tumors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur Radiol. 2021; 31(9):6511-6521.
  18. He C, Wang J, Zhang Y, Lin X, Li S. Irreversible electroporation after induction chemotherapy versus chemotherapy alone for patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer: A propensity score matching analysis. Pancreatology. 2020; 20(3):477-484.
  19. Hosein PJ, Echenique A, Loaiza-Bonilla A, et al. Percutaneous irreversible electroporation for the treatment of colorectal cancer liver metastases with a proposal for a new response evaluation system. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2014; 25(8):1233-1239.e2.
  20. Hsiao CY, Yang PC, Li X, Huang KW. Clinical impact of irreversible electroporation ablation for unresectable hilar cholangiocarcinoma. Sci Rep. 2020; 10(1):10883.
  21. Kalra N, Gupta P, Gorsi U, et al. Irreversible electroporation for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma: initial experience. Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2019; 42(4):584-590.
  22. Kawamura I, Neuzil P, Shivamurthy P, et al. How does the level of pulmonary venous isolation compare between pulsed field ablation and thermal energy ablation (radiofrequency, cryo, or laser)? Europace. 2021; 23(11):1757-1766.
  23. Kim HB, Sung CK, Baik KY, et al. Changes of apoptosis in tumor tissues with time after irreversible electroporation. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2013; 435(4):651-656.
  24. Kingham TP, Karkar AM, D'Angelica MI, et al. Ablation of perivascular hepatic malignant tumors with irreversible electroporation. J Am Coll Surg. 2012; 215(3):379-387.
  25. Kwon JH, Chung MJ, Park JY, et al. Initial experience of irreversible electroporation for locally advanced pancreatic cancer in a Korean population. Acta Radiol. 2021; 62(2):164-171.
  26. Langan RC, Goldman DA, D'Angelica MI, et al. Recurrence patterns following irreversible electroporation for hepatic malignancies. J Surg Oncol. 2017; 115(6):704-710.
  27. Leen E, Picard J, Stebbing J, et al. Percutaneous irreversible electroporation with systemic treatment for locally advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma. J Gastrointest Oncol. 2018; 9(2):275-281.
  28. Loh P, van Es R, Groen MHA, et al. Pulmonary vein isolation with single pulse irreversible electroporation: a first in human study in 10 patients with atrial fibrillation. Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol. 2020; 13(10):e008192.
  29. Lyons P, Kennedy A, Clover AJP. Electrochemotherapy and basal cell carcinomas: first-time appraisal of the efficacy of electrochemotherapy on survivorship using FACE-Q. JPRAS Open. 2020; 27:119-128.
  30. Lyu T, Wang X, Su Z, et al. Irreversible electroporation in primary and metastatic hepatic malignancies: a review. Medicine (Baltimore). 2017; 96(17):e6386.
  31. Mafeld S, Wong JJ, Kibriya N, et al. Percutaneous irreversible electroporation (IRE) of hepatic malignancy: a bi-institutional analysis of safety and outcomes. Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2019; 42(4):577-583.
  32. Mandel Y, Laufer S, Belkin M, et al. Irreversible electroporation of human primary uveal melanoma in enucleated eyes. PLoS One. 2013; 8(9):e71789.
  33. Månsson C, Nilsson A, Nygren P, Karlson BM. Ultrasound-guided percutaneous irreversible electroporation for treatment of locally recurrent pancreatic cancer after surgical resection. Anticancer Res. 2020; 40(5):2771-2775.
  34. Martin RC, Kwon D, Chalikonda S, et al. Treatment of 200 locally advanced (stage III) pancreatic adenocarcinoma patients with irreversible electroporation: safety and efficacy. Ann Surg. 2015; 262(3):486-494.
  35. Martin EK, Bhutiani N, Egger ME, et al. Safety and efficacy of irreversible electroporation in the treatment of obstructive jaundice in advanced hilar cholangiocarcinoma. HPB (Oxford). 2018; 20(11):1092-1097.
  36. Martin RC 2nd, McFarland K, Ellis S, Velanovich V. Irreversible electroporation therapy in the management of locally advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma. J Am Coll Surg. 2012; 215(3):361-369.
  37. Meijerink MR, Ruarus AH, Vroomen LGPH, et al. Irreversible electroporation to treat unresectable colorectal liver metastases (COLDFIRE-2): a phase II, two-center, single-arm clinical trial. Radiology. 2021; 299(2):470-480.
  38. Moir J, White SA, French JJ, et al. Systematic review of irreversible electroporation in the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer. Eur J Surg Oncol. 2014; 40(12):1598-1604.
  39. Narayanan G, Hosein PJ, Beulaygue IC, et al. Percutaneous image-guided irreversible electroporation for the treatment of unresectable, locally advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2017; 28(3):342-348.
  40. Niessen C, Beyer LP, Pregler B, et al. Percutaneous ablation of hepatic tumors using irreversible electroporation: a prospective safety and midterm efficacy study in 34 patients. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2016; 27(4):480-486.
  41. Niessen C, Thumann S, Beyer L, et al. Percutaneous irreversible electroporation: long-term survival analysis of 71 patients with inoperable malignant hepatic tumors. Sci Rep. 2017; 7:43687.
  42. Pech M, Janitzky A, Wendler JJ, et al. Irreversible electroporation of renal cell carcinoma: a first-in-man phase I clinical study. Cardiovasc Interven Radiol. 2011; 34(1):132-138.
  43. Reddy VY, Anic A, Koruth J, ET AL. Pulsed field ablation in patients with persistent atrial fibrillation. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2020; 76(9):1068-1080.
  44. Reddy VY, Koruth J, Jais P, et al. Ablation of atrial fibrillation with pulsed electric fields: an ultra-rapid, tissue-selective modality for cardiac ablation. JACC Clin Electrophysiol. 2018; 4(8):987-995.
  45. Ricke J, Jürgens JH, Deschamps F, et al. Irreversible electroporation (IRE) fails to demonstrate efficacy in a prospective multicenter phase II trial on lung malignancies: the ALICE trial. Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2015; 38(2):401-408.
  46. Scheffer HJ, Nielsen K, de Jong MC, et al. Irreversible electroporation for nonthermal tumor ablation in the clinical setting: a systematic review of safety and efficacy. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2014a; 25(7):997-1011.
  47. Scheffer HJ, Nielsen K, van Tilborg AA, et al. Ablation of colorectal liver metastases by irreversible electroporation: results of the COLDFIRE-I ablate-and-resect study. Eur Radiol. 2014b; 24(10):2467-2475.
  48. Scheffer HJ, Vroomen LG, de Jong MC, et al. Ablation of locally advanced pancreatic cancer with percutaneous irreversible electroporation: results of the phase I/II PANFIRE study. Radiology. 2017; 282(2):585-597.
  49. Schicho A, Niessen C, Haimerl M, et al. Long-term survival after percutaneous irreversible electroporation of inoperable colorectal liver metastases. Cancer Manag Res. 2018; 11:317-322.
  50. Silk MT, Wimmer T, Lee KS, et al. Percutaneous ablation of peribiliary tumors with irreversible electroporation. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2014; 25(1):112-118.
  51. Stillström D, Beermann M, Engstrand J, et al. Initial experience with irreversible electroporation of liver tumours. Eur J Radiol Open. 2019; 6:62-67.
  52. Sutter O, Calvo J, N'Kontchou G, et al. Safety and efficacy of irreversible electroporation for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma not amenable to thermal ablation techniques: a retrospective single-center case series. Radiology. 2017; 284(3):877-886.
  53. Tasu JP, Vesselle G, Herpe G, et al. Irreversible electroporation for locally advanced pancreatic cancer. Where do we stand in 2017? Pancreas. 2017; 46(3):283-287.
  54. Thomson KR, Cheung W, Ellis SJ, et al. Investigation of the safety of irreversible electroporation in humans. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2011; 22(5):611-621.
  55. Verloh N, Jensch I, Lürken L, et al. Similar complication rates for irreversible electroporation and thermal ablation in patients with hepatocellular tumors. Radiol Oncol. 2019; 53(1):116-122.
  56. Vogel JA1, Rombouts SJ1, de Rooij T1, et al. Induction chemotherapy followed by resection or irreversible electroporation in locally advanced pancreatic cancer (IMPALA): a prospective cohort study. Ann Surg Oncol. 2017; 24(9):2734-2743.
  57. Wah TM, Lenton J, Smith J, et al. Irreversible electroporation (IRE) in renal cell carcinoma (RCC): a mid-term clinical experience. Eur Radiol. 2021; 31(10):7491-7499.
  58. Yang PC, Huang KW, Pua U, et al. Prognostic factor analysis of irreversible electroporation for locally advanced pancreatic cancer - a multi-institutional clinical study in Asia. Eur J Surg Oncol. 2020; 46(5):811-817.
  59. Yeung ES, Chung MW, Wong K, et al. An update on irreversible electroporation of liver tumors. Hong Kong Med J. 2014; 20(4):313-316.
  60. Yu M, Li S. Irreversible electroporation for liver cancer ablation: A meta analysis. Eur J Surg Oncol. 2021: S0748-7983(21)00981-1.

Government Agency, Medical Society, and Other Authoritative Publications:

  1. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. © 2022. National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc. For additional information visit the NCCN website: Accessed on  April 29, 2022.
  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). Oncobionic System with six probe output (Oncobionic, Inc., Rancho Santa Margarita, CA). Summary of Safety and Effectiveness. No. K080376. April 2, 2008. Available at: Accessed on April 29, 2022.
  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). The NanoKnife® System (AngioDynamics, Inc. Fremont, CA). Summary of Safety and Effectiveness. No. K102329. October 24, 2011. Available at: Accessed on April 29, 2022.
  4. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). Electrosurgical Cutting and Coagulation Device and Accessories (AngioDynamics, Marlborough MA). No. K0183385. June 18, 2019. Available at: Accessed on April 29, 2022.

Ablation, Soft Tissue
Electroporation, Irreversible
Oncobionic System
Pulsed field ablation (PFA)
Soft Tissue Ablation

The use of specific product names is illustrative only. It is not intended to be a recommendation of one product over another, and is not intended to represent a complete listing of all products available.

Document History






Medical Policy & Technology Assessment Committee (MPTAC) review. Updated Rationale and References sections.



MPTAC review. Updated Rationale, References, and Index sections. Updated Coding section; added 93799 NOC.



MPTAC review. References section was updated. Updated Coding section with 07/01/2020 CPT changes; added 0600T, 0601T replacing NOC codes.



MPTAC review. References section was updated.



MPTAC review. The document header wording was updated from “Current Effective Date” to “Publish Date.” The acronym (IRE) was removed from the title and position statement. The Rationale and References sections were updated. Updated Coding section with 10/01/2018 ICD-10-PCS changes, added procedure codes for liver and pancreas IRE.



MPTAC review. The Rationale and References sections were updated.



MPTAC review. The Rationale and References were updated. Removed ICD-9 codes from Coding section.



MPTAC review. The Rationale and References were updated.



MPTAC review. The Rationale and References sections were updated.



MPTAC review. The Rationale, Background and References were updated.



MPTAC review. The document was revised to make clear that all uses of IRE are addressed and considered investigational and not medically necessary. Document was retitled:  Irreversible Electroporation (IRE). The Scope, Rationale and References were updated. 



MPTAC. Initial policy development.

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