Measurement and Thermodynamic Modeling of Energy Flux During Intercostal Nerve Cryoablation

Michela Carter, Madeline Inge, Suhail Zeineddin, Samuel C. Linton, J. Benjamin Pitt, Philip Robson, Fizan Abdullah, Seth D. Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Introduction: Intercostal nerve cryoablation is an increasingly adopted technique to decrease postoperative pain in patients undergoing surgical correction of pectus excavatum (SCOPE). Concerns regarding cryo-induced systemic hypothermia have been raised in pediatric patients; however, assessment of a cooled cryoprobe on body temperature has not been performed. We aimed to determine the energy flux from a maximally cooled cryoprobe and model the possible effects on a whole-body system. Methods: To directly measure energy flux, a maximally cooled cryoSPHERE probe (AtriCure, Inc, Mason, OH) was isolated in a well-mixed water bath at 37°C. Real-time temperatures were recorded. Three models were created to estimate intraoperative flux. Perioperative temperatures of 50 patients who received cryoablation during SCOPE were compared to 50 patients who did not receive cryoablation. Results: Direct calorimetry measured average energy flux of the maximally cooled cryoprobe to be 28 J/s. Thermodynamic modeling demonstrated the following: 1) The highest possible cryoprobe flux is less than estimated basal metabolic rate (BMR) of the average teenager undergoing SCOPE and 2) Flux in a best model of human tissue energy transfer using available literature is far less than the effects of BMR and insensible losses. Clinically, there were no significant differences in the minimum intraoperative, end procedure or first postoperative body temperatures for patients who received cryoablation and those who did not. Conclusions: Cryoprobe flux is significantly fewer joules per second than BMR. Furthermore, in a clinical series there were no empiric differences in body temperature due to cryoablation employment, contradicting concerns regarding hypothermia secondary to cryoablation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-238
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • Cryoanalgesia
  • Inadvertent perioperative hypothermia
  • Intercostal nerve cryoablation
  • Nuss
  • Pectus excavatum
  • Pediatric surgery
  • Surgical correction of pectus excavatum
  • Thermodynamics


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