Methods for characterizing convective cryoprobe heat transfer in ultrasound gel phantoms

Michael L. Etheridge, Jeunghwan Choi, Satish Ramadhyani, John C. Bischof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

While cryosurgery has proven capable in treating of a variety of conditions, it has met with some resistance among physicians, in part due to shortcomings in the ability to predict treatment outcomes. Here we attempt to address several key issues related to predictive modeling by demonstrating methods for accurately characterizing heat transfer from cryoprobes, report temperature dependent thermal properties for ultrasound gel (a convenient tissue phantom) down to cryogenic temperatures, and demonstrate the ability of convective exchange heat transfer boundary conditions to accurately describe freezing in the case of single and multiple interacting cryoprobe(s). Temperature dependent changes in the specific heat and thermal conductivity for ultrasound gel are reported down to -150 °C for the first time here and these data were used to accurately describe freezing in ultrasound gel in subsequent modeling. Freezing around a single and two interacting cryoprobe(s) was characterized in the ultrasound gel phantom by mapping the temperature in and around the "iceball" with carefully placed thermocouple arrays. These experimental data were fit with finite-element modeling in COMSOL Multiphysics, which was used to investigate the sensitivity and effectiveness of convective boundary conditions in describing heat transfer from the cryoprobes. Heat transfer at the probe tip was described in terms of a convective coefficient and the cryogen temperature. While model accuracy depended strongly on spatial (i.e., along the exchange surface) variation in the convective coefficient, it was much less sensitive to spatial and transient variations in the cryogen temperature parameter. The optimized fit, convective exchange conditions for the single-probe case also provided close agreement with the experimental data for the case of two interacting cryoprobes, suggesting that this basic characterization and modeling approach can be extended to accurately describe more complicated, multiprobe freezing geometries. Accurately characterizing cryoprobe behavior in phantoms requires detailed knowledge of the freezing medium's properties throughout the range of expected temperatures and an appropriate description of the heat transfer across the probe's exchange surfaces. Here we demonstrate that convective exchange boundary conditions provide an accurate and versatile description of heat transfer from cryoprobes, offering potential advantages over the traditional constant surface heat flux and constant surface temperature descriptions. In addition, although this study was conducted on Joule-Thomson type cryoprobes, the general methodologies should extend to any probe that is based on convective exchange with a cryogenic fluid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number021001
JournalJournal of biomechanical engineering
Volume135
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

Keywords

  • clinical modeling
  • cryoablation
  • cryosurgery
  • cryotherapy
  • heat transfer modeling
  • thermal properties

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