Purpose: To study the capacity of an internally cooled radiofrequency (RF) bipolar applicator to create sufficiently deep thermal lesions in hepatic tissue.
Materials and methods: Three complementary methodologies were employed to check the electrical and thermal behaviour of the applicator under test. The experimental studies were based on excised bovine (ex vivo study) and porcine liver (in vivo study) and the theoretical models were solved by means of the finite element method (FEM).
Results: Experimental and computational results showed good agreement in terms of impedance progress and lesion depth (4 and 4.5 mm respectively for ex vivo conditions, and ≈7 and 9 mm respectively for in vivo conditions), although the lesion widths were overestimated by the computer simulations. This could have been due to the method used to assess the thermal lesions; the experimental lesions were assessed by the white coagulation zone, whereas the tissue damage function was used to assess the computational lesions.
Conclusions: The experimental results suggest that this applicator could create in vivo lesions to a depth of around 7 mm. It was also observed that the thermal lesion is mainly confined to the area between both electrodes, which would allow lesion width to be controlled by selecting a specific applicator design. The comparison between the experimental and computational results suggests that the theoretical model could be usefully applied in further studies of the performance of this device.