Cryosurgical changes in the porcine kidney: Histologic analysis with thermal history correlation

Christopher C. Rupp, Nathan E. Hoffmann, Franz R. Schmidlin, David J. Swanlund, John C. Bischof, James E. Coad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Advances in minimally invasive renal cryosurgery have renewed interest in the relative contributions of direct cryothermic and secondary vascular injury-associated ischemic cell injury. Prior studies have evaluated renal cryolesions seven or more days post-ablation and postulated that vascular injury is the primary cell injury mechanism; however, the contributions of direct versus secondary cell injury are not morphologically distinguishable during the healing/repair stage of a cryolesion. While more optimal to evaluate this issue, minimal acute (≤3 days) post-ablation histologic data with thermal history correlation exists. This study evaluates three groups of porcine renal cryolesions: Group (1) in vitro non-perfused (n = 5); Group (2) in vivo 2-h post-ablation perfused (n = 5); and Group (3) in vivo 3-day post-ablation perfused (n = 6). The 3.4 mm argon-cooled cryoprobe's thermal history included a 75°C/min cooling rate, -130°C end temperature, 60°C/min thawing rate, and 15-min freeze time. An enthalpy-based mathematical model with a 2-D transient axisymmetric numerical solution with blood flow consideration was used to determine the thermal history within the ice ball. All three groups of cryolesions showed histologically similar central regions of complete cell death (CD) and transition zones of incomplete cell death (TZ). The CD had radii of 1.4, 1.1, and 1.0 cm in the non-perfused, 2-h and 3-day lesions, respectively. Capillary thrombosis was present in the 2-h perfused cryolesions with the addition of TZ arteriolar/venous thrombosis in the 3-day perfused lesions. Thermal modeling revealed the outer CD boundary in all three groups experienced similar thermal histories with an approximately -20°C end temperature and 2°C/min cooling and thawing rates. The presence of similar CD histology and in vitro/in vivo thermal histories in each group suggests that direct cryothermic cell injury, prior to or synchronous with vascular thrombosis, is a primary mediator of cell death in renal cryolesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-182
Number of pages16
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2002


  • Cell injury
  • Cryosurgery/therapy
  • Histology
  • Renal cortex


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