Finite-element analysis of ex vivo and in vivo hepatic cryoablation

Cheolkyun Kim, Ann P. O'Rourke, David M. Mahvi, John G. Webster*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Cryoablation is a widely used method for the treatment of nonresectable primary and metastatic liver tumors. A model that can accurately predict the size of a cryolesion may allow more effective treatment of tumor, while sparing normal liver tissue.We generated a computer model of tissue cryoablation using the finite-element method (FEM). In our model, we considered the heat transfer mechanism inside the cryoprobe and also cryoprobe surfaces so our model could incorporate the effect of heat transfer along the cryoprobe from the environment at room temperature. The modeling of the phase shift from liquid to solid was a key factor in the accurate development of this model. The model was verified initially in an ex vivo liver model. Temperature history at three locations around one cryoprobe and between two cryoprobes was measured. The comparison between the ex vivo result and the FEM modeling result at each location showed a good match, where the maximum difference was within the error range acquired in the experiment (< 5°C). The FEM model prediction of the lesion size was within 0.7 mm of experimental results. We then validated our FEM in an in vivo experimental porcine model. We considered blood perfusion in conjunction with blood viscosity depending on temperature. The in vivo iceball size was smaller than the ex vivo iceball size due to blood perfusion as predicted in our model. The FEM results predicted this size within 0.1-mm error. The FEM model we report can accurately predict the extent of cryoablation in the liver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1177-1185
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Ablation
  • Blood perfusion
  • Cryoablation
  • Cryosurgery
  • Finite-element modeling
  • Liver ablation
  • ex vivo
  • in vivo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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