Effect of the thermal wave in radiofrequency ablation modeling: an analytical study

Phys Med Biol. 2008 Mar 7;53(5):1447-62. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/53/5/018. Epub 2008 Feb 19.


To date, all radiofrequency heating (RFH) theoretical models have employed Fourier's heat transfer equation (FHTE), which assumes infinite thermal energy propagation speed. Although this equation is probably suitable for modeling most RFH techniques, it may not be so for surgical procedures in which very short heating times are employed. In such cases, a non-Fourier model should be considered by using the hyperbolic heat transfer equation (HHTE). Our aim was to compare the temperature profiles obtained from the FHTE and HHTE for RFH modeling. We built a one-dimensional theoretical model based on a spherical electrode totally embedded and in close contact with biological tissue of infinite dimensions. We solved the electrical-thermal coupled problem analytically by including the power source in both equations. A comparison of the analytical solutions from the HHTE and FHTE showed that (1) for short times and locations close to the electrode surface, the HHTE produced temperatures higher than the FHTE, however, this trend became negligible for longer times, when both equations produced similar temperature profiles (HHTE always being higher than FHTE); (2) for points distant from the electrode surface and for very short times, the HHTE temperature was lower than the FHTE, however, after a delay time, this tendency inverted and the HHTE temperature increased to the maximum; (3) from a mathematical point of view, the HHTE solution showed cuspidal-type singularities, which were materialized as a temperature peak traveling through the medium at a finite speed. This peak rose at the electrode surface, and clearly reflected the wave nature of the thermal problem; (4) the differences between the FHTE and HHTE temperature profiles were smaller for the lower values of thermal relaxation time and locations further from the electrode surface.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Catheter Ablation / methods*
  • Electrodes
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Models, Biological*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Temperature*
  • Thoracic Surgery
  • Time Factors