Progress on conformal microwave array applicators for heating chestwall disease
Previous studies have reported the computer modeling, CAD design, and theoretical performance of single and multiple antenna arrays of Dual Concentric Conductor (DCC) square slot radiators driven at 915 and 433 MHz. Subsequently, practical CAD designs of microstrip antenna arrays constructed on thin and flexible printed circuit board (PCB) material were reported which evolved into large Conformal Microwave Array (CMA) sheets that could wrap around the surface of the human torso for delivering microwave energy to large areas of superficial tissue. Although uniform and adjustable radiation patterns have been demonstrated from multiple element applicators radiating into simple homogeneous phantom loads, the contoured and heterogeneous tissue loads typical of chestwall recurrent breast cancer have required additional design efforts to achieve good coupling and efficient heating from the increasingly larger conformal array applicators used to treat large area contoured patient anatomy. Thus recent work has extended the theoretical optimization of DCC antennas to improve radiation efficiency of each individual aperture and reduce mismatch reflections, radiation losses, noise, and cross coupling of the feedline distribution network of large array configurations. Design improvements have also been incorporated into the supporting bolus structure to maintain effective coupling of DCC antennas into contoured anatomy and to monitor and control surface temperatures under the entire array. New approaches for non-invasive monitoring of surface and sub-surface tissue temperatures under each independent heat source are described that make use of microwave radiometry and flexible sheet grid arrays of thermal sensors. Efforts to optimize the clinical patient interface and move from planar rectangular shapes to contoured vest applicators that accommodate entire disease in a larger number of patients are summarized. By applying heat more uniformly to large areas of contoured anatomy, the CMA applicator resulting from these enhancements should expand the number of patients that can benefit from effective heating of superficial disease in combination with radiation or chemotherapy.