We present a novel thermodynamic parameter estimation framework for energy-based surgery on live tissue, with direct applications to tissue characterization during electrosurgery. This framework addresses the problem of estimating tissue-specific thermodynamics in real-time, which would enable accurate prediction of thermal damage impact to the tissue and damage-conscious planning of electrosurgical procedures. Our approach provides basic thermodynamic information such as thermal diffusivity, and also allows for obtaining the thermal relaxation time and a model of the heat source, yielding in real-time a controlled hyperbolic thermodynamics model. The latter accounts for the finite thermal propagation time necessary for modeling of the electrosurgical action, in which the probe motion speed often surpasses the speed of thermal propagation in the tissue operated on. Our approach relies solely on thermographer feedback and a knowledge of the power level and position of the electrosurgical pencil, imposing only very minor adjustments to normal electrosurgery to obtain a high-fidelity model of the tissue-probe interaction. Our method is minimally invasive and can be performed in situ. We apply our method first to simulated data based on porcine muscle tissue to verify its accuracy and then to in vivo liver tissue, and compare the results with those from the literature. This comparison shows that parameterizing the Maxwell-Cattaneo model through the framework proposed yields a noticeably higher fidelity real-time adaptable representation of the thermodynamic tissue response to the electrosurgical impact than currently available. A discussion on the differences between the live and the dead tissue thermodynamics is also provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1849-1857
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Biomedical infrared imaging
  • real-time model estimation
  • thermography
  • tissue thermodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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