A theoretical model of the application of RF energy to the airway wall and its experimental validation

Jerry Jarrard, Bill Wizeman, Robert H. Brown, Wayne Mitzner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Bronchial thermoplasty is a novel technique designed to reduce an airway's ability to contract by reducing the amount of airway smooth muscle through controlled heating of the airway wall. This method has been examined in animal models and as a treatment for asthma in human subjects. At the present time, there has been little research published about how radiofrequency (RF) energy and heat is transferred to the airways of the lung during bronchial thermoplasty procedures. In this manuscript we describe a computational, theoretical model of the delivery of RF energy to the airway wall.Methods: An electro-thermal finite-element-analysis model was designed to simulate the delivery of temperature controlled RF energy to airway walls of the in vivo lung. The model includes predictions of heat generation due to RF joule heating and transfer of heat within an airway wall due to thermal conduction. To implement the model, we use known physical characteristics and dimensions of the airway and lung tissues. The model predictions were tested with measurements of temperature, impedance, energy, and power in an experimental canine model.Results: Model predictions of electrode temperature, voltage, and current, along with tissue impedance and delivered energy were compared to experiment measurements and were within ± 5% of experimental averages taken over 157 sample activations.The experimental results show remarkable agreement with the model predictions, and thus validate the use of this model to predict the heat generation and transfer within the airway wall following bronchial thermoplasty.Conclusions: The model also demonstrated the importance of evaporation as a loss term that affected both electrical measurements and heat distribution. The model predictions showed excellent agreement with the empirical results, and thus support using the model to develop the next generation of devices for bronchial thermoplasty. Our results suggest that comparing model results to RF generator electrical measurements may be a useful tool in the early evaluation of a model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number81
JournalBioMedical Engineering Online
StatePublished - Nov 27 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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