We need more research into the side effects of IRE for pancreatic cancer. Early studies have found the following side effects. Most of these are short term and only last a few days.
- You may have some pain. This can be managed with painkillers and usually improves in one to three days.
- Some people get pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). This can usually be managed with painkillers. You may need to spend a few days in hospital until the pain improves and you are able to eat. If the pancreatitis is more severe, you may need to stay in hospital for a few weeks or months – but this is not common.
- Some people have problems with feeling and being sick, and heartburn. These don’t normally last very long.
- Bleeding or bruising of the pancreas can happen when the needles are inserted. If the bleeding doesn’t stop by itself it may need further treatment, such as a blood transfusion or a procedure called embolisation to block the bleeding vessels.
- A small number of people may get a blood clot in a vein, but this is rare. It can be treated with blood thinning medicine. A blood clot may mean that you can’t have surgery following IRE, even if the IRE was successful – your doctor should discuss this with you.
- Very rarely, a small number of people may have a leak of fluid from their bile duct or their duodenum (first part of the small intestine). This may happen if the needles damage these areas. It may need an operation to repair the leak.
There may be a very small risk of dying after having IRE. This is rare. It may be caused by damage during the treatment.
Speak to your doctor about the risks and side effects of IRE.
If you are having chemotherapy or chemoradiotherapy, you may also get side effects from these treatments.