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Computational study of the effects of arterial bifurcation on the temperature distribution during cryosurgery
© The Author(s) 2018
Received: 25 May 2017
Accepted: 10 January 2018
Published: 16 January 2018
Thermally significant blood flows into locally cooled diseased tissues and warm them during cryosurgery so that the iceball is often hard to cover the whole diseased volume. This paper is aimed at investigating the effects of large arterial bifurcation on the temperature distribution during cryosurgery through simulation method.
A parametric geometry model is introduced to construct a close-to-real arterial bifurcation. The three-dimensional transient conjugate heat transfer between bifurcated artery and solid tissues with phase change during cryosurgery is performed by finite volume method.
The discussion was then made on the effects of the relative position between cryoprobe and artery bifurcation, the inlet velocity of root artery and the layout of multiple cryoprobes on the temperature distribution and iceball evolution. The results show that the thermal interaction between blood flow and iceball growth near bifurcation is considerable complex. The thermal effects of bifurcation could modulate the iceball morphology, severely weaken its freezing volume and prevent the blood vessel from being frozen.
The present work is expected to be valuable in optimizing cryosurgery scheme of the situation that the bifurcated artery is embedded into the disease tissue.
Cryosurgery has been widely demonstrated as an excellent therapeutic approach to destroy the diseased tissues (such as tumor) due to its minimal invasiveness [1–3]. In order to freeze and kill the target cells, largely decreasing the temperature of target tissues to below 0 °C is necessary. The temperature distribution in target tissue is the major parameter to evaluate the cryosurgical output. Accordingly, it is very important to accurately control the temperature distribution in order to enhance the destruction of diseased tissues and avoid the injury of healthy tissues.
Blood flow could remarkably affect the temperature distributions during freezing, especially with the presence of large blood vessels (larger than 0.5 mm in diameter) . Thermally significant blood flows into locally cooled diseased tissues and warm them during cryosurgery so that the iceball is often hard to cover the whole diseased volume. Recently the study on thermal behavior of large blood vessels has attracted much attention in the cryosurgery area. Deng et al.  adopted infrared thermography system to investigate the thermal effects of large vessels during cryosurgery based on simulation and animal experiments. The results showed that the heating nature of the flowing blood in the large vessels could produce steep temperature gradients and inadequate cooling to the frozen tissues. Numerical simulation method was also used to study the thermal effects of the large blood vessel. In the early research , the blood velocity in the line-like vessel was simply considered as constant. The cylindrical cryoprobes and blood vessel were both approximated as cubes. Such simplification would induce numerical errors to the temperature distribution . Latterly, a finite element method based on FEM commercial software was introduced to obtain a more accurate numerical solution of temperature field near blood vessel . However, compared with the investigation for the thermal effects of large vessels on the hyperthermia ablation [9–14], study on the similar issues in cryosurgery is still rare.
Compared to single large line-like artery, the bifurcated artery (such as inlet artery in liver) has complicated structure so that the complex blood flow distribution would induce heterogeneous heat transfer surrounding artery bifurcation. In recent years, some investigations focus on the cooling effects of artery bifurcation on the hyperthermia ablation, such as microwave ablation [15, 16] and radio-frequency ablation . However, few investigation contributes to the warm effects of artery bifurcation on the cryosurgery. The details of three-dimensional transient temperature distribution during cryosurgery surrounding artery bifurcation, which is more real and complex, are still unknown. The phase-change heat transfer combined with the convective mechanism of blood flow in arterial bifurcation during cryosurgery would be more complex than that during hyperthermia ablation. Tremendous contributions are needed to probe into such important issues, which are very useful for optimizing cryosurgery scheme of the situation that the bifurcated artery is embedded into the disease tissues. The aim of this paper is to disclose the detailed temperature characteristics of cryosurgery in the vicinity of an arterial bifurcation.
In present study, a parametric geometry model  is introduced to construct a close-to-real bifurcated artery. The steady state blood flow is considered here. The three-dimensional transient conjugate heat transfer between bifurcated artery and solid tissues during cryosurgery is performed by finite volume method. Then the relative position between cryoprobe and artery bifurcation, the changes of root vessel inlet velocity and the layout of multiple cryoprobes would be considered to investigate the detailed temperature distribution between bifurcation and cryoprobe. The mechanism of heat transfer between artery bifurcation and solid tissues, the iceball edge evolution would be then revealed to evaluate the thermal effects of large artery bifurcation on the tissue temperature distribution and iceball growth during cryosurgery.
Geometric and mathematical model
The thermo-physical parameters involved in the above equation could be found in :C t = C b = 3.6 MJ/m3K, C f = 1.8 MJ/m3K, ω cb = 5 × 10−4/s, Q m = 420 J/m3, κ f = 2 W/mK, κ t = κ b = 0.5 W/mK, L f = 250 MJ/m3, Tcb = 37 °C, T u = − 1 °C and T l = − 8 °C. Blood viscosity is μ = 2.5 × 10−3 Ns/m2.
For solid tissues boundary, the thermal condition is considered as adiabatic wall boundary. The inlet velocity of the root artery adopts parabolic velocity profile u(r) = 2 V[1 − (2r/D0)2], where V is average velocity and r the radial position. The inlet temperature of the root artery assumes as constant T0 = 37 °C. The outlet boundary of the daughter bifurcation artery adopts the pressure boundary, where the reference pressure is set as zero. The interface between solid tissues and cryoprobes tip is set as T p = − 196 °C.
Finite volume analysis tool
Firstly, the geometrical model of bifurcated artery constructed from software Solidworks imports into mesh generation software Gambit. Mesh size in artery domains is 1 mm so that about 10,000 tetrahedral elements and 20,000 nodes are obtained. The nonuniform mesh is used to map the solid tissues. The mesh size 0.6 mm is used for the field close to active cryoprobe, where the large temperature gradient happens during cryosurgery. The mesh size 2 mm is used for the field far away from the active cryoprobe. Thus there are about 1,500,000 tetrahedral elements and 270,000 nodes for the whole solid tissues. After creating the mesh, Gambit generates an input file to the finite volume package Fluent 6.3, which has been extensively utilized to address a variety of practical engineering problems nowadays. The blood flow and temperature analysis are solved according to SIMPLE and second order up wind algorithms.
Results and discussion
Steady blood velocity distribution
Thermal interaction between iceball evolution and arterial bifurcation
The iceball volume (T = 0 °C) and the lethal volume (T = − 40 °C) for different cryoprobe positions at freezing time t = 20 min
Cryoprobe position (mm)
Ld = 20
Ld = 30
Ld = 40
Iceball volume (cm3)
Lethal volume (cm3)
The iceball volume (T = 0 °C) and the lethal volume (T = − 40 °C) for different inlet velocity with the same cryoprobe position Ld = 30 mm and freezing time t = 20 min
Inlet velocity (m/s)
V = 0.01
V = 0.05
V = 0.10
V = 0.20
V = 0.30
Iceball volume (cm3)
Lethal volume (cm3)
The treatment time of cryosurgery when the minimum temperature of the bifurcated artery surface approaches to the freezing temperature (T = 0 °C) according to different cryoprobe positions and inlet velocities of artery root
Ld = 10 (mm)
Ld = 15 (mm)
Ld = 20 (mm)
Ld = 30 (mm)
Ld = 40 (mm)
V = 0.01 (m/s)
V = 0.05 (m/s)
V = 0.10 (m/s)
V = 0.20 (m/s)
V = 0.30 (m/s)
In summary, the present paper has adopted three dimensional numerical simulation method to investigate the thermal effects of arterial bifurcation on temperature responses during cryosurgery based on single and multiple cryoprobe system. We have investigated in detail that the blood velocity distribution in arterial bifurcation and its effects on the iceball growth. The results indicate that complex blood velocity distribution could induce the inhomogeneous convective heat transfer between solid tissue and arterial bifurcation. Thus the iceball near arterial bifurcation presents strong irregular geometry. The blood flow of bifurcated artery has significant heating effects on the target freezing domains. It is also noteworthy that the artery wall is easily suffering from cold injury, which should be paid by special attention. In order to protect the artery wall, nanoparticle and external fields [19, 20] could be applied to enhance heat transfer near artery wall with low temperature.
YCZ and JHW performed the computations, analyzed the data, and wrote the draft paper. SJH analyzed the data and wrote the draft paper. ZZH conceived and designed this study. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant Nos. 51476181 and 61675236.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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