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Real-time estimation of lesion depth and control of radiofrequency ablation within ex vivo animal tissues using a neural network

Yearnchee Curtis Wang, Terence Chee-Hung Chan, Alan Varteres Sahakian
International Journal of Hyperthermia 2018, 34 (7): 1104-1113

BACKGROUND: Radiofrequency ablation (RFA), a method of inducing thermal ablation (cell death), is often used to destroy tumours or potentially cancerous tissue. Current techniques for RFA estimation (electrical impedance tomography, Nakagami ultrasound, etc.) require long compute times (≥ 2 s) and measurement devices other than the RFA device. This study aims to determine if a neural network (NN) can estimate ablation lesion depth for control of bipolar RFA using complex electrical impedance - since tissue electrical conductivity varies as a function of tissue temperature - in real time using only the RFA therapy device's electrodes.

METHODS: Three-dimensional, cubic models comprised of beef liver, pork loin or pork belly represented target tissue. Temperature and complex electrical impedance from 72 data generation ablations in pork loin and belly were used for training the NN (403 s on Xeon processor). NN inputs were inquiry depth, starting complex impedance and current complex impedance. Training-validation-test splits were 70%-0%-30% and 80%-10%-10% (overfit test). Once the NN-estimated lesion depth for a margin reached the target lesion depth, RFA was stopped for that margin of tissue.

RESULTS: The NN trained to 93% accuracy and an NN-integrated control ablated tissue to within 1.0 mm of the target lesion depth on average. Full 15-mm depth maps were calculated in 0.2 s on a single-core ARMv7 processor.

CONCLUSIONS: The results show that a NN could make lesion depth estimations in real-time using less in situ devices than current techniques. With the NN-based technique, physicians could deliver quicker and more precise ablation therapy.


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