Improved perfusion system for bipolar radiofrequency ablation of liver: preliminary findings from a computer modeling study

Physiol Meas. 2006 Oct;27(10):N55-66. doi: 10.1088/0967-3334/27/10/N03. Epub 2006 Sep 1.


Current systems for radiofrequency ablation of liver tumors are unable to consistently treat tumors larger than 3 cm in diameter with a single electrode in a single application. One of the strategies for enlarging coagulation zone dimensions is to infuse saline solutions into the tissue through the active electrodes. Nevertheless, the uncontrolled and undirected diffusion of boiling saline into the tissue has been associated with irregular coagulation zones and severe complications, mainly due to reflux of saline along the electrode path. In order to improve the perfusion bipolar ablation method, we hypothesized that the creation of small monopolar coagulation zones adjacent to the bipolar electrodes and previous to the saline infusion would create preferential paths for the saline to concentrate on the targeted coagulation zone. Firstly, we conducted ex vivo experiments in order to characterize the monopolar coagulation zones. We observed that they are practically impermeable to the infused saline. On the basis of this finding, we built theoretical models and conducted computer simulations to assess the feasibility of our hypothesis. Temperature distributions during bipolar ablations with and without previous monopolar coagulation zones were obtained. The results showed that in the case of monopolar coagulation zones the temperature of the tissue took longer to reach 100 degrees C. Since this temperature value is related to rise of impedance, and the time necessary for this process is directly related to the volume of the coagulation zone, our results suggest that monopolar sealing would allow larger coagulation zones to be created. Future experimental studies should confirm this benefit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Catheter Ablation / instrumentation*
  • Cattle
  • Computer Simulation
  • Electrodes
  • Equipment Design
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Models, Biological
  • Perfusion / instrumentation*
  • Radiofrequency Therapy*