Introduction: There are no methods in clinical use to assess tissue cooling during catheter cryoablation. Cryoablation electrode temperature may be a poor predictor of lesion size. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the time necessary for the cryoablation electrode to cool to target temperature or to rewarm after cryoablation can predict lesion size.
Methods and Results: Cryoablation was performed on live porcine left ventricle in a saline bath (37°C) using 8-mm-tip catheter. Cryoablation was given for 300 seconds under all permutations of the following conditions: electrode orientation vertical or horizontal, contact pressure 6 or 20 g, superfusate flow over electrode–tissue interface at 0.2 or 0.4 m/s (N = 10 each condition set, total 80 experiments). The time intervals necessary to cool the electrode to the target temperature of −75°C and to rewarm to + 30°C after termination of cryoablation were recorded. Lesion volume was predicted best by the time necessary to rewarm the elctrode to +30°C (r2= 0.65, P < 0.0001), followed by electrode temperature (r2= 0.28, P < 0.0001) and time to cool the electrode to −75°C (r2= 0.24, P < 0.0001). Time to +30°C and time to −75°C were associated with superfusate flow rate, contact pressure, and electrode orientation (r2= 0.80 and 0.61, respectively, both P < 0.0001). Superfusate flow rate, contact pressure, and orientation were also highly predictive of lesion volume (r2= 0.93, P < 0.0001).
Conclusions: Time to cryoablation electrode rewarming is a better predictor of cryoablation lesion size than is electrode temperature. Time to cryoablation electrode rewarming reflects important determinants of cryoablation lesion formation—convective warming, contact pressure, and electrode orientation—that are not ascertainable during clinical ablation procedures.