Irreversible electroporation (IRE) uses high-voltage electric fields to achieve cell death. Although the mechanism of IRE is mainly designated as nonthermal, development of secondary Joule heating is inevitable. The study purpose was to gain understanding of temperature development and distribution during IRE.
Materials and Methods
IRE was performed in a transparent polyacrylamide gel resembling soft tissue. Mechanical effects, changes in temperature gradient, and absolute temperature changes were measured with three different optical techniques (high-speed, color Schlieren, and infrared imaging) to investigate the effect on temperature of variations in voltage, pulse length, active tip length (ATL), interelectrode distance, electrode configuration (parallel, convergent, and divergent), and sequential pulsing (pulse delivery interrupted by breaks). The total delivered energy was calculated.
A temperature gradient, starting at the tips of both electrodes and expanding toward each other, developed immediately with pulse delivery. Temperatures increased with increasing voltage (by 2.5°C–40.4°C), pulse length (by 5.3°C–9.8°C), ATL (by 5.9°C–17.6°C), and interelectrode distance (by 7.6°C–21.5°C), in accordance with higher energy delivery. Nonparallel electrode placement resulted in heterogeneous temperature distribution with the peak temperature focused in the area with the shortest interelectrode distance. Sequential pulse delivery significantly reduced the temperature increase compared with continuous pulsing (4.3°C vs 11.7°C).
Voltage, pulse length, interelectrode distance, ATL, and electrode configuration each have a strong effect on temperature development and distribution during IRE. Sequential pulsing reduces the extent and volume of thermal distribution and may prove beneficial with respect to procedural safety.