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Eur Radiol. 2005 Apr;15(4):798-808. Epub 2005 Feb 12.

Electrodes and multiple electrode systems for radiofrequency ablation: a proposal for updated terminology.

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Department of Surgery, University Hospital of Mont-Godinne, Catholic University of Louvain, Yvoir, Belgium.


Research on technology for soft tissue radiofrequency (RF) ablation is ever advancing. A recent proposal to standardise terminology of RF electrodes only deals with the most frequently used commercial electrodes. The aim of this study was to develop a logical, versatile and unequivocal terminology to describe present and future RF electrodes and multiple electrode systems. We have carried out a PubMed search for the period from January 1 1990 to July 1 2004 in seven languages and contacted the six major companies that produce commercial RF electrodes for use in clinic. In a first step, names have been defined for the five existing basic designs of single-shaft electrode. These names had to be unequivocal, descriptive of the electrode's main working principle and as short as possible. In a second step, these basic names have been used as building blocks to describe the single-shaft electrodes in combination designs. In a third step, using the same principles, a logical terminology has been developed for multiple electrode systems, defined as the combined use of more than one single-shaft RF electrode. Five basic electrode designs were identified and defined: plain, cooled, expandable, wet and bipolar electrodes. Combination designs included cooled-wet, expandable-wet, bipolar-wet, bipolar-cooled, bipolar-expandable and bipolar-cooled-wet electrodes. Multiple electrode systems could be characterised by describing several features: the number of electrodes that were used (dual, triple, ...), the electric mode (monopolar or bipolar), the activation mode (consecutive, simultaneous or switching), the site of the inserted electrodes (monofocal or multifocal), and the type of single shaft electrodes that were used. In this terminology, the naming of the basic electrode designs has been based on objective criteria. The short and unequivocal names of the basic designs can easily be combined to describe current and future combination electrodes. This terminology provides an exact and complete description of the versatile novel multiple electrode systems.

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