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Cryobiology. 2014 Aug;69(1):128-33. doi: 10.1016/j.cryobiol.2014.06.004. Epub 2014 Jun 27.

An investigation of the effects from a urethral warming system on temperature distributions during cryoablation treatment of the prostate: a phantom study.

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Department of Radiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, United States.
Hermitage Medical Clinic, Dublin, Ireland.
Department of Urology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, United States. Electronic address:


Introduction of urethral warmers to aid cryosurgery in the prostate has significantly reduced the incidence of urethral sloughing; however, the incidence rate still remains as high as 15%. Furthermore, urethral warmers have been associated with an increase of cancer recurrence rates. Here, we report results from our phantom-based investigation to determine the impact of a urethral warmer on temperature distributions around cryoneedles during cryosurgery. Cryoablation treatments were simulated in a tissue mimicking phantom containing a urethral warming catheter. Four different configurations of cryoneedles relative to urethral warming catheter were investigated. For each configuration, the freeze-thaw cycles were repeated with and without the urethral warming system activated. Temperature histories were recorded at various pre-arranged positions relative to the cryoneedles and urethral warming catheter. In all configurations, the urethral warming system was effective at maintaining sub-lethal temperatures at the simulated surface of the urethra. The warmer action, however, was additionally demonstrated to potentially negatively impact treatment lethality in the target zone by elevating minimal temperatures to sub-lethal levels. In all needle configurations, rates of freezing and thawing were not significantly affected by the use of the urethral warmer. The results indicate that the urethral warming system can protect urethral tissue during cryoablation therapy with cryoneedles placed as close as 5mm to the surface of the urethra. Using a urethral warming system and placing multiple cryoneedles within 1cm of each other delivers lethal cooling at least 5mm from the urethral surface while sparing urethral tissue.


Cryoablation; Cryoneedle; Cryotherapy; Phantom experiment; Prostate; Prostate cancer; Urethral warmer

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