Physical Aspects of Thermotherapy - A study of heat transport with a view to treatment optimisation

University dissertation from Department of Radiation Physics, Lund University Hospital, SE-221 85 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: Local treatment with the aim to destruct tissue by heating (thermotherapy) may in some cases be an alternative or complement to surgical methods, and has gained increased interest during the last decade. The major advantage of these, often minimally-invasive methods, is that the disease can be controlled with reduced treatment trauma and complications. The extent of thermal damage is a complex function of the physical properties of tissue, which influence the temperature distribution, and of the biological response to heat. In this thesis, methods of obtaining a well-controlled treatment have been studied from a physical point of view, with emphasis on interstitial laser-induced heating of tumours in the liver and intracavitary heating as a treatment for menorrhagia. Hepatic inflow occlusion, in combination with temperature-feedback control of the output power of the laser, resulted in well defined damaged volumes during interstitial laser thermotherapy in normal porcine liver. In addition, phantom experiments showed that the use of multiple diffusing laser fibres allows heating of clinically relevant tissue volumes in a single session. Methods for numerical simulation of heat transport were used to calculate the temperature distribution and the results agreed well with experiments. It was also found from numerical simulation that the influence of light transport on the damaged volume may be negligible in interstitial laser thermotherapy in human liver. Finite element analysis, disregarding light transport, was therefore proposed as a suitable method for 3D treatment planning. Finite element simulation was also used to model intracavitary heating of the uterus, with the purpose of providing an increased understanding of the influence of various treatment parameters on blood flow and on the depth of tissue damage. The thermal conductivity of human uterine tissue, which was used in these simulations, was measured. Furthermore, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was investigated as a method of non-invasive temperature monitoring, and an optically tissue-like phantom material, suitable for MRI, was developed. MRI thermometry in this material was shown to be an excellent method for characterisation of laser applicators and for verification of numerical calculations. Finally, a water-cooled laser applicator for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, allowing anatomically correct heating, was developed and evaluated ex-vivo. An increased understanding of the physical aspects of thermotherapy, aided by the methods and results presented in this thesis, constitutes a significant contribution to the performance of safe and efficacious treatment.

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