A comparative study of human skin thermal response to sapphire contact and cryogen spray cooling
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1109/10.686802
Surface cooling, in conjunction with various thermally mediated therapeutic procedures, can provide a means to protect superficial tissues from injury while achieving destruction of deeper targeted structures. We have investigated the thermal response of in-vivo human skin to: 1) contact cooling with a sapphire window (6-12 degrees C); and 2) spray cooling with a freon substitute cryogen [tetrafluoroethane; boiling point approximately -26 degrees C at 1 atmospheric pressure (atm)]. Measurements utilizing infrared radiometry show surface temperature reductions from 30 degrees C to 14-19 degrees C are obtained within approximately 1 s in response to sapphire contact cooling. Surface temperature reductions to values between 5 degrees C and -9 degrees C are obtained in response to 20-100-ms cryogen spurts. Computational results, based on fitting the measured radiometric surface temperature to estimate heat transfer parameters, show: 1) temperature reductions remain localized to approximately 200 microns of superficial tissue; and 2) values of heat flux and total energy removed per unit skin surface area at least doubled when using cryogen spray cooling.