Cryosurgery of normal and tumor tissue in the dorsal skin flap chamber: Part I - Thermal response

N. E. Hoffmann, J. C. Bischof

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76 Scopus citations


Current research in cryosurgery is concerned with finding a thermal history that will definitively destroy tissue. In this study, we measured and predicted the thermal history obtained during freezing and thawing in a cryosurgical model. This thermal history was then compared to the injury observed in the tissue of the same cryosurgical model (reported in companion paper (Hoffmann and Bischof, 2001)). The dorsal skin flap chamber, implanted in the Copenhagen rat, was chosen as the cryosurgical model. Cryosurgery was performed in the chamber on either normal skin or tumor tissue propagated from an AT-1 Dunning rat prostate tumor. The freezing was performed by placing a ∼ 1 mm diameter liquid-nitrogen-cooled cryoprobe in the center of the chamber and activating it for approximately 1 minute, followed by a passive thaw. This created a 4.2 mm radius iceball. Thermocouples were placed in the tissue around the probe at three locations (r = 2, 3, and 3.8 mm from the center of the window) in order to monitor the thermal history produced in the tissue. The conduction error introduced by the presence of the thermocouples was investigated using an in vitro simulation of the in vivo case and found to be <10°C for all cases. The corrected temperature measurements were used to investigate the validity of two models of freezing behavior within the iceball. The first model used to approximate the freezing and thawing behavior within the DSFC was a two-dimensional transient axisymmetric numerical solution using an enthalpy method and incorporating heating due to blood flow. The second model was a one-dimensional radial steady state analytical solution without blood flow. The models used constant thermal properties for the unfrozen region, and temperature-dependent thermal properties for the frozen region. The two-dimensional transient model presented here is one of the first attempts to model both the freezing and thawing of cryosurgery. The ability of the model to calculate freezing appeared to be superior to the ability to calculate thawing. After demonstrating that the two-dimensional model sufficiently captured the freezing and thawing parameters recorded by the thermocouples, it was used to estimate the thermal history throughout the iceball. This model was used as a basis to compare thermal history to injury assessment (reported in companion paper (Hoffmann and Bischof, 2001)).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-309
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of biomechanical engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Cell Injury
  • Cryoinjury
  • Cryosurgery
  • Intravital Microscopy
  • Microvasculature
  • Skin Flap Chamber
  • Vascular Injury


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