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Phys Med Biol. 1998 Nov;43(11):3325-40.

Experimental evaluation of two simple thermal models using transient temperature analysis.

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  • 1The Ontario Cancer Institute and Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, Canada.


Thermal models are used to predict temperature distributions of heated tissues during thermal therapies. Recent interest in short duration high temperature therapeutic procedures necessitates the accurate modelling of transient temperature profiles in heated tissues. Blood flow plays an important role in tissue heat transfer and the resultant temperature distribution. This work examines the transient predictions of two simple mathematical models of heat transfer by blood flow (the bioheat transfer equation model and the effective thermal conductivity equation model) and compares their predictions to measured transient temperature data. Large differences between the two models are predicted in the tissue temperature distribution as a function of blood flow for a short heat pulse. In the experiments a hot water needle, approximately 30 degrees C above ambient, delivered a 20 s heating pulse to an excised fixed porcine kidney that was used as a flow model. Temperature profiles of a thermocouple that primarily traversed the kidney cortex were examined. Kidney locations with large vessels were avoided in the temperature profile analysis by examination of the vessel geometry using high resolution computed tomography angiography and the detection of the characteristic large vessel localized cooling or heating patterns in steady-state temperature profiles. It was found that for regions without large vessels, predictions of the Pennes bioheat transfer equation were in much better agreement with the experimental data when compared to predictions of the scalar effective thermal conductivity equation model. For example, at a location r approximately 2 mm away from the source, the measured delay time was 10.6 +/- 0.5 s compared to predictions of 9.4 s and 5.4 s of the BHTE and ETCE models, respectively. However, for the majority of measured locations, localized cooling and heating effects were detected close to large vessels when the kidney was perfused. Finally, it is shown that increasing flow in regions without large vessels minimally perturbs temperature profiles for short exposure times; regions with large vessels still have a significant effect.

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