Thermal Properties of Porcine and Human Biological Systems

  • Shaunak Phatak
  • Harishankar Natesan
  • Jeunghwan Choi
  • Robert Sweet
  • John Bischof
Reference work entry


For applications of bioheat transfer such as thermal therapies and cryopreservation, the temperature excursions experienced by a biomaterial can be directly correlated to the injuries that may occur in the system. Thermal modeling is an important tool in order to predict this temperature history as it is not always possible to experimentally measure the temperature and cooling/heating rates experienced by the biomaterials. These models make use of temperature-dependent thermal properties in order to accurately predict the thermal histories experienced by the systems. This review chapter focuses on listing literature data of human and porcine systems for thermal conductivity and specific heat capacity in the cryogenic, subzero, and suprazero temperature ranges. At subzero and cryogenic temperatures, thermal properties are affected by phase change (water to ice) and vitrification or glass formation in the presence of cryoprotectants, whereas water loss and protein denaturation are important factors at suprazero temperatures. Finally, a modeling case study is provided demonstrating the use and necessity of temperature-dependent properties in order to make accurate predictions for thermal history.



Funding for this work was provided by the Center for Research in Education and Simulation Technologies at the University of Minnesota and the National Science Foundation (Award Number CBET 1236760).


  1. Arkin H, Xu LX, Holmes KR (1994) Recent developments in modeling heat transfer in blood perfused tissues. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng 41:97–107. Scholar
  2. Baish J (2000) Microvascular heat transfer, Chapter 98-1. In: The biomedical engineering handbook. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL USAGoogle Scholar
  3. Balasubramaniam TA, Bowman HF (1977) Thermal conductivity and thermal diffusivity of biomaterials: a simultaneous measurement technique. J Biomech Eng 99:148. Scholar
  4. Bald WB, Fraser J (1982) Cryogenic surgery. Reports Prog Phys 45:1381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baust JG, Gage AA (2005) The molecular basis of cryosurgery. BJU Int 95:1187–1191. Scholar
  6. Belzer FO, Southard JH (1988) Principles of solid-organ preservation by cold storage. Transplantation 45:673–676CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bhattacharya A, Mahajan RL (2003) Temperature dependence of thermal conductivity of biological tissues. Physiol Meas 24:769–783. Scholar
  8. Bischof J, Han B (2002) Cryogenic heat and mass transfer in biomedical applications. Heat Transf 1:141–156Google Scholar
  9. Bowman H (1981) Heat transfer and thermal dosimetry. J Microw Power Electromagn Energy 16:121–133Google Scholar
  10. Bowman HF, Cravalho EG, Woods M (1975) Theory, measurement, and application of thermal properties of biomaterials. Annu Rev Biophys Bioeng 4:43–80. Scholar
  11. Cahill DG, Pohl RO (1987) Thermal conductivity of amorphous solids above the plateau. Phys Rev B 35:4067–4073. Scholar
  12. Carpenter JF, Pikal MJ, Chang BS, Randolph TW (1997) Rational design of stable lyophilized protein formulations: some practical advice. Pharm Res 14:969–975. Scholar
  13. Charny CK (1992) Mathematical models of bioheat transfer. Adv Heat Transf 22:19–155. Scholar
  14. Chato JC (1968) A method for the measurement of the thermal properties of biological materials. In: American Society of Mechanical Engineers: symposium series: thermal problems in biotechnology. ASME, New York City, NY, USAGoogle Scholar
  15. Chen MM, Holmes KR, Rupinskas V (1981) Pulse-decay method for measuring the thermal conductivity of living tissues. J Biomech Eng 103:253–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cherneeva LI (1956) Study of thermal properties of foods. In: Report of Vnikhi. Scientific Research Institute of the Refrigeration Industry, GostorgisdatGoogle Scholar
  17. Choi JH, Bischof JC (2008) A quantitative analysis of the thermal properties of porcine liver with glycerol at subzero and cryogenic temperatures. Cryobiology 57:79–83. Scholar
  18. Choi J, Bischof JC (2010) Review of biomaterial thermal property measurements in the cryogenic regime and their use for prediction of equilibrium and non-equilibrium freezing applications in cryobiology. Cryobiology 60:52–70. Scholar
  19. Choi J, Morrissey M, Bischof JC (2013) Thermal processing of biological tissue at high temperatures: impact of protein denaturation and water loss on the thermal properties of human and porcine liver in the range 25–80 °C. J Heat Transf 135:61302. Scholar
  20. Chu KF, Dupuy DE (2014) Thermal ablation of tumours: biological mechanisms and advances in therapy. Nat Rev Cancer 14:199–208. Scholar
  21. Crowe JH, Hoekstra FA, Crowe LM (1992) Anhydrobiosis. Annu Rev Physiol 54:579–599. Scholar
  22. Diller KR (1992) Modeling of bioheat transfer processes at high and low temperatures. Adv Heat Transf 22:157–357. Scholar
  23. Diller KR, Valvano JW, Pearce JA (2000) Bioheat transfer. CRC Handb Therm Eng 4:114–215Google Scholar
  24. Duck FA (2013) Physical properties of tissues: a comprehensive reference book. Academic, LondonGoogle Scholar
  25. Ehrlich LE, Feig JSG, Schiffres SN, Malen JA, Rabin Y (2015) Large thermal conductivity differences between the crystalline and vitrified states of DMSO with applications to cryopreservation. PLoS One 10:e0125862. doi: Scholar
  26. Ehrlich LE, Malen JA, Rabin Y (2016) Thermal conductivity of the cryoprotective cocktail DP6 in cryogenic temperatures, in the presence and absence of synthetic ice modulators. Cryobiology 73:196–202. Scholar
  27. Etheridge ML, Choi J, Ramadhyani S, Bischof JC (2013) Methods for characterizing convective cryoprobe heat transfer in ultrasound gel phantoms. J Biomech Eng 135:21002. Scholar
  28. Fahy GM, MacFarlane DR, Angell CA, Meryman HT (1984) Vitrification as an approach to cryopreservation. Cryobiology 21:407–426. Scholar
  29. Gage AA, Baust J (1998) Mechanisms of tissue injury in cryosurgery. Cryobiology 37:171–186. Scholar
  30. Glassbrenner CJ, Slack GA (1964) Thermal conductivity of silicon and germanium from 3 °K to the melting point. Phys Rev 134:A1058–A1069. Scholar
  31. Grayson J (1952) Internal calorimetry in the determination of thermal conductivity and blood flow. J Physiol 118:54–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Guntur SR, Lee K Il, Paeng D-G, Coleman AJ, Choi MJ (2013) Temperature-dependent thermal properties of ex vivo liver undergoing thermal ablation. Ultrasound Med Biol 39:1771–1784. Scholar
  33. Hasgall PA, Di Gennaro F, Baumgartner C, Neufeld E, Gosselin MC, Payne D, Klingenböck A, Kuster N (2015) IT’IS Database for thermal and electromagnetic parameters of biological tissues. Version 3.0, 1 Sept 2015Google Scholar
  34. He X, Bischof JC (2003) Quantification of temperature and injury response in thermal therapy and cryosurgery. Crit Rev Biomed Eng 31:355–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Henriques FC, Moritz AR (1947) Studies of thermal injury: I. The conduction of heat to and through skin and the temperatures attained therein. A theoretical and an experimental investigation. Am J Pathol 23:530–549Google Scholar
  36. Hill JE, Leitman JD, Sunderland JE (1967) Thermal conductivity of various meats. Food Technol 21:1143Google Scholar
  37. Hoffmann NE, Bischof JC (2002) The cryobiology of cryosurgical injury. Urology 60:40–49. Scholar
  38. Höhne GWH, Hemminger W, Flammersheim H-J (1996) Differential scanning calorimetry. Springer, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Karlsson JOM, Toner M (1996) Long-term storage of tissues by cryopreservation: critical issues. Biomaterials 17:243–256. Scholar
  40. Lentz CP (1961) Thermal conductivity of meats, fats, gelatin gels, and ice. Food Technol 15:243Google Scholar
  41. Liu J, Zhu L, Xu LX (2000) Studies on the three-dimensional temperature transients in the canine prostate during transurethral microwave thermal therapy. J Biomech Eng 122:372. Scholar
  42. Lubner SD, Choi J, Wehmeyer G, Waag B, Mishra V, Natesan H, Bischof JC, Dames C (2015) Reusable bi-directional 3ω sensor to measure thermal conductivity of 100-μm thick biological tissues. Rev Sci Instrum 86:14905. Scholar
  43. Lewis JK, Bischof JC, Braslavsky I, Brockbank KGM, Fahy GM, Fuller BJ, Rabin Y, Tocchio A, Woods EJ, Wowk BG, Acker JP, Giwa S (2016) The grand challenges of organ banking: proceedings from the first global summit on complex tissue cryopreservation. Cryobiology 72:169–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Marcus SM, Reading M (1994) Method and apparatus for thermal conductivity measurements. US Patent 5,335,993Google Scholar
  45. Mazur P (1984) Freezing of living cells: mechanisms and implications. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 247(3):C125–C142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Moline SW, Rinfret AP, Short AJ, Sawdye JA (1961) Thermal properties of foods at low temperatures. 1. Specific heat. Food Technol 15:228Google Scholar
  47. Morley MJ (1966) Thermal conductivities of muscles, fats and bones. Int J Food Sci Technol 1:303–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Natesan H, Bischof JC (2016) Multi-scale thermal property measurements for biomedical applications. ACS Biomater Sci Eng ACS Biomater:6b00565.
  49. Natesan H, Choi J, Lubner S, Dames C, Bischof J (2016a) Multi-scale thermal conductivity measurements for cryobiological applications. In: Multiscale technologies for cryomedicine. World Scientific, Singapore, pp 125–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Natesan H, Hodges W, Choi J, Lubner S, Dames C, Bischof J (2016b) A micro-thermal sensor for focal therapy applications. Sci Rep 6:21395. Scholar
  51. O’Neal DP, Hirsch LR, Halas NJ, Payne JD, West JL (2004) Photo-thermal tumor ablation in mice using near infrared-absorbing nanoparticles. Cancer Lett 209(2):171–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Ozisik N (1994) Finite difference methods in heat transfer. CRC Press, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  53. Patel PA, Valvano JW, Pearce JA, Prahl SA, Denham CR (1987) A self-heated thermistor technique to measure effective thermal properties from the tissue surface. J Biomech Eng 109:330. Scholar
  54. Pennes HH (1948) Analysis of tissue and arterial blood temperatures in the resting human forearm. J Appl Physiol 1:93–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Poppendiek HF, Randall R, Breeden JA, Chambers JE, Murphy JR (1967) Thermal conductivity measurements and predictions for biological fluids and tissues. Cryobiology 3:318–327. Scholar
  56. Rabin Y, Shitzer A (1998) Numerical solution of the multidimensional freezing problem during cryosurgery. J Biomech Eng 120:32. Scholar
  57. Rabin Y, Taylor MJ, Wolmark N (1998) Thermal expansion measurements of frozen biological tissues at cryogenic temperatures. J Biomech Eng 120:259. Scholar
  58. Reading M, Hahn BK, Crowe BS (1993) Method and apparatus for modulated differential analysis. US Patent 5,224,775Google Scholar
  59. Reading M, Luget A, Wilson R (1994) Modulated differential scanning calorimetry. Thermochim Acta 238:295–307. Scholar
  60. Rossmann C, Haemmerich D (2014) Review of temperature dependence of thermal properties, dielectric properties, and perfusion of biological tissues at hyperthermic and ablation temperatures. Crit Rev Biomed Eng 42:467–492. Scholar
  61. Rubinsky B (2000) Cryosurgery. Annu Rev Biomed Eng 2:157–187. Scholar
  62. Sabel MS (2009) Cryo-immunology: a review of the literature and proposed mechanisms for stimulatory versus suppressive immune responses. Cryobiology 58:1–11. Scholar
  63. Sapareto SA, Dewey WC (1984) Thermal dose determination in cancer therapy. Int J Radiat Oncol 10:787–800. Scholar
  64. Steponkus PL (1996) Advances in low-temperature biology, Vol 3. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  65. Vachon RI, Walker FJ, Walker DF, Nix GH (1967) In vivo determination of thermal conductivity of bone using the thermal comparator technique. In: Digest of the Seventh International Conference of Medical and Biological Engineering. StockholmGoogle Scholar
  66. Valvano JW (1995) Tissue thermal properties and perfusion. In: Optical-thermal response of laser-irradiated tissue. Springer US, Boston, pp. 445–488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Valvano JW, Cochran JR, Diller KR (1985) Thermal conductivity and diffusivity of biomaterials measured with self-heated thermistors. Int J Thermophys 6:301–311. Scholar
  68. Vendrik AJH, Vos JJ (1957) A method for the measurement of the thermal conductivity of human skin. J Appl Physiol 11(2):211–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Yi F, Kim IK, Li S, Lavan DA (2014) Hydrated/dehydrated lipid phase transitions measured using nanocalorimetry. J Pharm Sci 103:3442–3447. Scholar
  70. Yuan DY, Xu LX, Liang Zhu, Holmes KR, Valvano JW (1998) Perfusion and temperature measurements in hyperthermic canine prostates. In: Proceedings of the 17th Southern Biomedical Engineering Conference, pp 85–85Google Scholar
  71. Zhang H, Cheng S, He L, Zhang A, Zheng Y, Gao D (2002) Determination of thermal conductivity of biomaterials in the temperature range 233–313K using a tiny detector made of a self-heated thermistor. Cell Preserv Technol 1:141–147. Scholar
  72. Zhang J, Sandison GA, Murthy JY, Xu LX (2005) Numerical simulation for heat transfer in prostate cancer cryosurgery. J Biomech Eng 127:279. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shaunak Phatak
    • 1
  • Harishankar Natesan
    • 1
  • Jeunghwan Choi
    • 2
  • Robert Sweet
    • 3
  • John Bischof
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of EngineeringEast Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of UrologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Ram Devireddy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical and Industrial EngineeringLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

Personalised recommendations