Background and objectives: Recently, there have been calls for RFA to be implemented in the bipolar mode for cancer treatment due to the benefits it offers over the monopolar mode. These include the ability to prevent skin burns at the grounding pad and to avoid tumour track seeding. The usage of bipolar RFA in clinical practice remains uncommon however, as not many research studies have been carried out on bipolar RFA. As such, there is still uncertainty in understanding the effects of the different RF probe configurations on the treatment outcome of RFA. This paper demonstrates that the electrode lengths have a strong influence on the mechanics of bipolar RFA. The information obtained here may lead to further optimization of the system for subsequent uses in the hospitals. Methods: A 2D model in the axisymmetric coordinates was developed to simulate the electro-thermophysiological responses of the tissue during a single probe bipolar RFA. Two different probe configurations were considered, namely the configuration where the active electrode is longer than the ground and the configuration where the ground electrode is longer than the active. The mathematical model was first verified with an existing experimental study found in the literature. Results: Results from the simulations showed that heating is confined only to the region around the shorter electrode, regardless of whether the shorter electrode is the active or the ground. Consequently, thermal coagulation also occurs in the region surrounding the shorter electrode. This opened up the possibility for a better customized treatment through the development of RF probes with adjustable electrode lengths. Conclusions: The electrode length was found to play a significant role on the outcome of single probe bipolar RFA. In particular, the length of the shorter electrode becomes the limiting factor that influences the mechanics of single probe bipolar RFA. Results from this study can be used to further develop and optimize bipolar RFA as an effective and reliable cancer treatment technique. (C) 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Effects of different boundary conditions prescribed across the boundaries of radiofrequency ablation (RFA) models of liver cancer are investigated for the case where the tumour is at the liver boundary. Ground and Robin-type conditions (electrical field) and body temperature and thermal insulation (thermal field) conditions are examined. 3D models of the human liver based on publicly-available CT images of the liver are developed. An artificial tumour is placed inside the liver at the boundary. Simulations are carried out using the finite element method. The numerical results indicated that different electrical and thermal boundary conditions led to different predictions of the electrical potential, temperature and thermal coagulation distributions. Ground and body temperature conditions presented an unnatural physical conditions around the ablation site, which results in more intense Joule heating and excessive heat loss from the tissue. This led to thermal damage volumes that are smaller than the cases when the Robin type or the thermal insulation conditions are prescribed. The present study suggests that RFA simulations in the future must take into consideration the choice of the type of electrical and thermal boundary conditions to be prescribed in the case where the tumour is located near to the liver boundary.