Theoretical modeling of RF ablation with internally cooled electrodes: comparative study of different thermal boundary conditions at the electrode-tissue interface

Math Biosci Eng. 2009 Jul;6(3):611-27. doi: 10.3934/mbe.2009.6.611.


Previous studies on computer modeling of RF ablation with cooled electrodes modeled the internal cooling circuit by setting surface temperature at the coolant temperature (i.e., Dirichlet condition, DC). Our objective was to compare the temperature profiles computed from different thermal boundary conditions at the electrode-tissue interface. We built an analytical one-dimensional model based on a spherical electrode. Four cases were considered: A) DC with uniform initial condition, B) DC with pre-cooling period, C) Boundary condition based on Newton's cooling law (NC) with uniform initial condition, and D) NC with a pre-cooling period. The results showed that for a long time (120 s), the profiles obtained with (Cases B and D) and without (Cases A and C) considering pre-cooling are very similar. However, for shorter times ( 30 s), Cases A and C overestimated the temperature at points away from the electrode-tissue interface. In the NC cases, this overestimation was more evident for higher values of the convective heat transfer coefficient (h). Finally, with NC, when h was increased the temperature profiles became more similar to those with DC. The results suggest that theoretical modeling of RF ablation with cooled electrodes should consider: 1) the modeling of a pre-cooling period, especially if one is interested in the thermal profiles registered at the beginning of RF application; and 2) NC rather than DC, especially for low flow in the internal circuit.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / therapy*
  • Catheter Ablation / instrumentation
  • Catheter Ablation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Numerical Analysis, Computer-Assisted
  • Temperature