Irreversible electroporation (IRE) is an emerging, minimally invasive technique for solid tumors ablation, under clinical investigation for cancer therapy. IRE affects only the cell membrane, killing cells while preserving the extracellular matrix structure. Current reports indicate tumors recurrence rate after IRE averaging 31% of the cases, of which 10% are local recurrences. The mechanisms for these recurrences are not known and new explanations for incomplete cell death are needed. Using finite elements method for electric field distribution, we show that presence of vascular structures with blood leads to the redistribution of electric fields leading to the areas with more than 60% reduced electric field strength in proximity to large blood vessels and clustered vessel structures. In an in vivo rat model of liver IRE ablation, we show that cells located in the proximity of larger vessel structures and in proximity of clustered vessel structures appear less affected by IRE ablation than cells in the tissue parenchyma or in the proximity of small, more isolated vessels. These findings suggest a role for "electric field sinks" in local tumors recurrences after IRE and emphasize the importance of the precise mapping of the targeted organ structure and conductivity for planning of electroporation procedures.
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