J Heat Transfer. 2022 Mar 1;144(3):031206. doi: 10.1115/1.4053199. Epub 2022 Jan 18.
Irreversible electroporation (IRE), also referred to as nonthermal pulsed field ablation (PFA), is an attractive focal ablation modality for solid tumors and cardiac tissue due to its ability to destroy aberrant cells with limited disruption of the underlying tissue architecture. Despite its nonthermal cell death mechanism, application of electrical energy results in Joule heating that, if ignored, can cause undesired thermal injury. Engineered thermal mitigation (TM) technologies including phase change materials (PCMs) and active cooling (AC) have been reported and tested as a potential means to limit thermal damage. However, several variables affect TM performance including the pulsing paradigm, electrode geometry, PCM composition, and chosen active cooling parameters, meaning direct comparisons between approaches are lacking. In this study, we developed a computational model of conventional bipolar and monopolar probes with solid, PCM-filled, or actively cooled cores to simulate clinical IRE treatments in pancreatic tissue. This approach reveals that probes with integrated PCM cores can be tuned to drastically limit thermal damage compared to existing solid probes. Furthermore, actively cooled probes provide additional control over thermal effects within the probe vicinity and can altogether abrogate thermal damage. In practice, such differences in performance must be weighed against the increased time, expense, and effort required for modified probes compared to existing solid probes.