Assessment of Cryosurgical Device Performance Using a 3D Tissue-Engineered Cancer Model

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Abstract

As the clinical use of cryoablation for the treatment of cancer has increased, so too has the need for knowledge on the dynamic environment within the frozen mass created by a cryoprobe. While a number of factors exist, an understanding of the iceball size, critical isotherm distribution/penetration, and the resultant lethal zone created by a cryoprobe are critical for clinical application. To this end, cryoprobe performance is typically characterized based on the iceball size and temperature penetration in phantom gel models. Although informative, these models do not provide information as to the impact of heat input from surrounding tissue nor give any information on the ablative zone created. As such, we evaluated the use of a tissue-engineered tumor model (TEM) to assess cryoprobe performance including iceball size, real-time thermal profile distribution, and resultant ablative zone. Studies were conducted using an Endocare V-probe cryoprobe, with a 10/5/10 double freeze–thaw protocol using prostate and renal cancer TEMs. The data demonstrate the generation of a 33- to 38-cm3 frozen mass with the V-Probe cryoprobe following the double freeze of which ∼12.7 and 6.5 cm3 was at or below −20°C and −40°C, respectively. Analysis of ablation zone using fluorescence microscopy 24 hours postthaw demonstrated that the internal ∼40% of the frozen mass was completely ablated, whereas in the periphery of the iceball (outer 1 cm region), a gradient of partial to minimal destruction was observed. These findings correlated well with clinical reports on renal and prostate cancer cryoablation. Overall, this study demonstrates that TEMs provide an effective model for a more complete characterization of cryoablation device performance. The data demonstrate that while the overall iceball size generated in the TEM was consistent with published reports from phantom models, the integration of an external heat load, circulation, and cellular components more closely reflect an in vivo setting and the impact of penetration of the critical (−20°C and −40°C) isotherms into the tissue. This is important as it is well appreciated in clinical practice that the heat load of a tissue, cryoprobe proximity to vasculature, and so on, can impact outcome. The TEM model provides a means of characterizing the impact on ablative dose delivery allowing for a better understanding of probe performance and potential impact on ablative outcome.

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