Thresholds for thermal damage to normal tissues: an update

Int J Hyperthermia. 2011;27(4):320-43. doi: 10.3109/02656736.2010.534527.


The purpose of this review is to summarise a literature survey on thermal thresholds for tissue damage. This review covers published literature for the consecutive years from 2002-2009. The first review on this subject was published in 2003. It included an extensive discussion of how to use thermal dosimetric principles to normalise all time-temperature data histories to a common format. This review utilises those same principles to address sensitivity of a variety of tissues, but with particular emphasis on brain and testis. The review includes new data on tissues that were not included in the original review. Several important observations have come from this review. First, a large proportion of the papers examined for this review were discarded because time-temperature history at the site of thermal damage assessment was not recorded. It is strongly recommended that future research on this subject include such data. Second, very little data is available examining chronic consequences of thermal exposure. On a related point, the time of assessment of damage after exposure is critically important for assessing whether damage is transient or permanent. Additionally, virtually no data are available for repeated thermal exposures which may occur in certain recreational or occupational activities. For purposes of regulatory guidelines, both acute and lasting effects of thermal damage should be considered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / injuries
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Edema / etiology
  • Brain Injuries / etiology
  • Brain Injuries / metabolism
  • Cell Death
  • Central Nervous System / injuries
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • DNA Damage
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Eye Injuries
  • Fertility
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced / adverse effects
  • Intestines / injuries
  • Kidney / injuries
  • Liver / injuries
  • Male
  • Muscles / injuries
  • Prostate / injuries
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Respiration
  • Skin / injuries
  • Spermatozoa / pathology
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / injuries
  • Testis / injuries
  • Testis / pathology
  • Testosterone / metabolism
  • Time
  • Urinary Bladder / injuries


  • Testosterone