Technical Brief

An On-Site Thermoelectric Cooling Device for Cryotherapy and Control of Skin Blood Flow

[+] Author and Article Information
Natalia Mejia

Department of Biomedical Engineering,
The University of Texas at Austin,
107 West Dean Keeton Street,
Austin, TX 78712-1081
e-mail: nathysmejia@utexas.edu

Karl Dedow

Department of Biomedical Engineering,
The University of Texas at Austin,
107 West Dean Keeton Street,
Austin, TX 78712-1081
e-mail: kdedow@gmail.com

Lindsey Nguy

Department of Biomedical Engineering,
The University of Texas at Austin,
107 West Dean Keeton Street,
Austin, TX 78712-1081
e-mail: lindseynguy@gmail.com

Patrick Sullivan

Department of Biomedical Engineering,
The University of Texas at Austin,
107 West Dean Keeton Street,
Austin, TX 78712-1081
e-mail: Psullivan000@gmail.com

Sepideh Khoshnevis

Department of Biomedical Engineering,
The University of Texas at Austin,
107 West Dean Keeton Street,
Austin, TX 78712-1081
e-mail: sepideh@utexas.edu

Kenneth R. Diller

Fellow ASME
Department of Biomedical Engineering,
The University of Texas at Austin,
107 West Dean Keeton Street,
Austin, TX 78712-1081
e-mail: kdiller@mail.utexas.edu

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received July 20, 2014; final manuscript received December 23, 2014; published online August 6, 2015. Assoc. Editor: Rupak K. Banerjee.

J. Med. Devices 9(4), 044502 (Aug 06, 2015) (6 pages) Paper No: MED-14-1212; doi: 10.1115/1.4029508 History: Received July 20, 2014

Cryotherapy involves the surface application of low temperatures to enhance the healing of soft tissue injuries. Typical devices embody a remote source of chilled water that is pumped through a circulation bladder placed on the treatment site. In contrast, the present device uses thermoelectric refrigeration modules to bring the cooling source directly to the tissue to be treated, thereby achieving significant improvements in control of therapeutic temperature while having a reduced size and weight. A prototype system was applied to test an oscillating cooling and heating protocol for efficacy in regulating skin blood perfusion in the treatment area. Data on 12 human subjects indicate that thermoelectric coolers (TECs) delivered significant and sustainable changes in perfusion for both heating (increase by (±SE) 173.0 ± 66.0%, P < 0.005) and cooling (decrease by (±SE) 57.7 ± 4.2%, P < 0.0005), thus supporting the feasibility of a TEC-based device for cryotherapy with local temperature regulation.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Photos of a twin TEC cooling and heating device in position on a thigh. (a) Polyurethane sleeve with two TECs and a laser Doppler perfusion probe in between. Heat sinks are mounted on the heat rejection side of the TECs with the fins orientated longitudinally along the axis of the leg. (b) Enclosed shrouds through which cooling air was directed across the surface of the heat sinks.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Experimental setup. P, T, and H stand for the perfusion probe, TEC, and the holder, respectively. The holder was made up of a polyurethane sleeve onto which the TECs were mounted and was used to hold the TECs and perfusion probe in place.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Blood perfusion (top frame) and skin temperature (bottom frame) as acquired from the laser Doppler probe mounted between two TEC modules during one of the trials. The circles point to the general location of extracted data. Perfusion is expressed as percentage change from the baseline value measured before the cooling fans are turned on (indicated by circle 1). Circles 2 and 3 indicate the times following active cooling episodes when the fans were turned off.



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