In Vivo Evaluation of Safety and Efficacy of Ethyl Cellulose-Ethanol Tissue Ablation in a Swine Cervix Model

Bioengineering (Basel). 2023 Oct 25;10(11):1246. doi: 10.3390/bioengineering10111246.


Current therapies for treating cervical dysplasia are often inaccessible in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), highlighting the need for novel low-cost therapies that can be delivered at the point of care. Ethanol ablation is a low-cost therapy designed to treat locoregional cancers, which we augmented into an ethyl cellulose (EC)-ethanol gel formulation to enhance its efficacy. Here, we evaluated whether EC-ethanol ablation is able to safely achieve an ablation zone comparable to thermocoagulation, a commonly used therapy for cervical dysplasia. The study was performed in 20 female Yorkshire pigs treated with either a single 500 µL injection of EC-ethanol into the 12 o'clock position of the cervix or a single application of thermocoagulation at 100 °C for 20 s. The average temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood oxygen remained within normal ranges throughout the EC-ethanol procedure and were similar to the thermocoagulation group. No major side effects were observed. The reproductive tracts were excised after 24 h to examine ablation zones. Comparable depths of necrosis were seen for EC-ethanol (18.6 ± 1.6 mm) and thermocoagulation (19.7 ± 4.1 mm). The volumes of necrosis induced by a single injection of EC-ethanol (626.2 ± 122.8 µL) were comparable to the necrotic volumes induced by thermocoagulation in the top half of the cervices (664.6 ± 168.5 µL). This suggests that two EC-ethanol injections could be performed (e.g., at the 12 and 6 o'clock positions) to achieve comparable total necrotic volumes to thermocoagulation and safely and effectively treat women with cervical dysplasia in LMICs. This is the first study to systematically evaluate EC-ethanol ablation in a large animal model and compare its safety and efficacy to thermocoagulation, a commonly used ablative therapy for cervical dysplasia.

Keywords: cervical dysplasia; ethanol ablation; ethyl cellulose; low- and middle-income countries; swine cervix; thermocoagulation.