Precooling prevents overheating of subcutaneous fat in the use of RF capacitive heating

Juong G. Rhee, Chung K Lee, James Osborn, Seymour H. Levitt, Chang W. Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The usefulness of precooling subcutaneous tissue in the hyperthermic treatment of deep-seated human tumors with capacitive application of radio-frequency (RF) was investigated. A capacitive hyperthermia unit operated at 8 MHz of radiofrequency was used to heat deep-seated human tumors. The electrode surfaces were covered with flexible vinyl sheets and the space between the electrode and the vinyl sheets perfused with 0.4% saline. The temperature of the saline was controlled by circulating the saline through built-in heat exchangers. The depth of heating was controlled by pairing electrodes of different diameters. When subcutaneous fat was less than 1 cm thick, various deep-seated tumors could be heated to a therapeutic temperature without significant discomfort in the subcutaneous tissue as long as the skin was properly cooled with the cold saline bolus. However, the same cooling method could not prevent the occurrence of pain in subcutaneous tissue in obese patients. The pain usually developed when the temperature of subcutaneous fat 1-2 cm below the skin surface exceeded 42°C. We observed that cooling the human skin surface with 10°C bolus for 20 min could substantially lower the temperature of fat as deep as 2.0-2.5 cm. Therefore, when the subcutaneous tissue was precooled with 10°C saline for 20 min or longer before heating, it was possible to prevent successfully the overheating of subcutaneous fat as thick as 2.0-2.5 cm and to raise the temperature of deep-seated tumors to therapeutic levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1009-1015
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 1991

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Reprint requests to: Dr. Chang W. Song. Acknowledgements-The authors would like to thank Ms. Le-nore Joseph for her critical review of the manuscript and Mrs. Peggy Evans for her help in the preparation of the manuscript. This work was supported by NC1 Grant numbers CA44056 and CA441 14.


  • Capacitive heating
  • Deep heating
  • Hyperthermia
  • Precooling
  • Subcutaneous fat


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