Venous reflux in the legs has been treated very successfully in the past two decade using thermal ablation conducted under local anaesthetic. The treatment of venous reflux disease elsewhere in the body has improved in the last decade with the diagnosis of pelvic venous reflux, currently diagnosed using duplex ultrasound the gold standard technique developed at The Whiteley Clinic (TWC). This is currently treated by coil embolization. Recent work between TWC and the University of Surrey has led to the development of a new thermal ablation technique to treat pelvic veins; however, the nature of the pelvic region (where if the vein perforates, there is direct contact to major organs) means that significant development and validation work must be done before the new approach can be introduced for human clinical use.
This PhD will develop this new technique by constructing an accurate model of thermal conduction through the tissues of the abdomens of patients suffering with pelvic venous reflux. These models will be developed from patient scans and the reconstructed into 3D models before being analysed by finite element analysis software such as ANSYS or COMSOL. Blood flow in the vessels will also need to be simulated, as it plays an equally important role in the dynamic temperature profile. Recent studies published on Discrete Vasculature Models have proven impractical for clinical applications; there is a need for efficient temperature based optimisation method including thermal mechanical effect of discrete vasculature in the pelvic region taking the biochemical environment as well as all the other boundary conditions.
The study will explore the how thermal mechanical boundary conditions play a role in the ablative technique in the pelvic region, where the dynamic temperature distribution across the pelvic region, which is of extreme importance in assessing the risk of introducing a thermal ablative technique in an area of the pelvis. More importantly, it will seek to ensure that the ablative energy used within the vein will not affect the major organs that are around the veins that are being treated. This will allow for safe, risk assessed feasibility of the new thermal technique proposed to be developed to the next stage of product development.
The project will be based principally at the University of Surrey’s campus in Guildford, but will also offer the candidate the opportunity to take several months over the degree at the Whiteley Clinic’s site, also in Guildford. This will give the candidate an opportunity to experience research and development in both academic and clinical/commercial environments.
This is a 3 year project, commencing in October 2019.
Entry requirements: Applicants must hold a First Class Honours degree in Engineering or Physics.