Conventional radiofrequency (RF) ablative techniques have shown promise for the treatment of symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH); however, present RF technology is limited by the small lesion size, necessitating several probe placements and heating cycles to achieve sizable lesions. This limitation is attributable primarily to a rapid increase in electrical impedance secondary to tissue desiccation and charring at the electrode tip. We devised a hollow screw-tip needle electrode that permits fixation to tissue, recording of temperature and impedance, infusion of fluid, and delivery of RF energy. Infusion of electrolyte solution (i.e., saline) into tissue prevents impedance rise by conducting RF energy away from the metal electrode and permits the creation of large lesions. By varying the conductivity of the perfusate (concentration and temperature), lesions of large diameter can be created in a controlled manner. To determine the long-term tissue effects, we applied this new modified RF technique to the prostates of five mongrel dogs in a chronic (0.5 to 8-week) study. The screw-tip electrode was serially embedded into each lobe of the perineally exposed glands with 1-minute infusion of 0.9% saline (2 mL/min) followed by application of RF energy (500 KHz, 50 W, 2-18 minutes) along with continuous saline infusion. Thermocouples were embedded 5 mm below and at the gland capsule, and RF application was discontinued when the temperature reached 50°C at the periphery. Postoperatively, the animals were examined daily for clinical status and weekly for glandular changes using transrectal ultrasonography. At predetermined intervals, the animals were sacrificed and the prostates excised, measured, sectioned, and examined for histologic changes. Ablative tissue temperatures of 50 to 100°C were produced while impedance remained stable. Four animals required a single catheterization for relief of urinary retention between days 2 and 3; otherwise, all animals demonstrated a quick and uneventful recovery with no edema detectable on day 7 ultrasound examination. The outside dimensions of the gland remained relatively constant throughout the study (± 0.39 cm L + W + H). Histologic examination revealed coagulation necrosis (ablation) in both lobes of all prostates (69.94% ± 16.62% of the gland) with tissueless cavities forming from the ablation area (28.71% ± 8.24% of the gland) contained within the capsule surrounded by healthy tissue at the periphery. Intraprostatic lesions were obtained without any gross damage to surrounding tissue, including the bladder and rectal wall. Utilizing a liquid conductor in prostate tissue allows a single electrode-placement heating cycle for controlled ablation for the potential treatment of BPH. This new technique produces more extensive and uniform lesions than conventional RF procedures, and lesion size is limited only by the duration of RF energy application.
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