Bimodal electric tissue ablation (BETA) – effect of reversing the polarity of the direct current on the size of ablation

J Surg Res. 2012 May 15;174(2):305-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2011.01.013. Epub 2011 Feb 5

Tiong LU1, Finnie JW, Field JB, Maddern GJ



Bimodal electric tissue ablation (BETA) is a new technique that uses the direct current in electrolysis to improve the efficacy of radio frequency (RF) ablation. It was hypothesized that attaching the cathode of the electrolytic circuit to the RF electrode will increase the tissuehydration, therefore delaying tissue desiccation during ablation. Consequently, the ablation process can continue for a longer period of time and produce larger ablations. This hypothesis was tested by reversing the polarity of the electrolytic circuit, which theoretically would cause tissuedesiccation and therefore produce smaller ablations. This new setup is called reversed polarity bimodal electric ablation (RP-BEA).

Materials and Methods:

Three types of ablations standard radiofrequency ablation (RFA), BETA, and RP-BEA) were tested in a pig liver model. In BETA and RP-BEA, 9 V of direct current were provided for 10 min, after which the rf generator were switched on and both electrical circuits allowed to run concurrently. In all three setups, ablations were continued until “roll-off.” The size of ablation was measured and compared with each other.


The duration of ablation was significantly shorted in RP-BEA compared with standard RFA and BETA (48 s verus 148 s and 84 s, respectively, P = 0.004). The sizes of ablations in RP-BEA were also significantly smaller compared with standard RFA and BETA-skin.


RP-BEA caused tissue desiccation resulting in a shorter duration of ablation and smaller ablations. Therefore, the theory that BETA increases ablation size due to the effects of increased tissue hydration around the rf electrode is correct