A recent study by Ooi and Ooi (EH Ooi, ET Ooi, Mass transport in biological tissues: Comparisons between single- and dual-porosity models in the context of saline-infused radiofrequency ablation, Applied Mathematical Modelling, 2017, 41, 271-284) has shown that single-porosity (SP) models for describing fluid transport in biological tissues significantly underestimate the fluid penetration depth when compared to dual-porosity (DP) models. This has raised some concerns on whether the SP model, when coupled with models of radiofrequency ablation (RFA) to simulate saline-infused RFA, could lead to an underestimation of the coagulation size. This paper compares the coagulation volumes obtained following saline-infused RFA predicted based on the SP and DP models for fluid transport. Results showed that the SP model predicted coagulation zones that are consistently 0.5 to 0.9 times smaller than that of DP model. This may be explained by the low permeability value of the tissue interstitial space, which causes the majority of the saline to flow through the vasculature. The absence of fluid flow tracking in the vasculature in the SP model meant that any flow of saline into the vasculature is treated as losses and do not contribute to the saline penetration depth of the tissue. Comparisons with experimental results from the literature revealed that the DP models predicted coagulation zone sizes that are closer to the experimental values than the SP models. This supports the hypothesis that the SP model is a poor choice for simulating the outcome of saline-infused RFA.
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.