We have conducted a parametric comparison of three different vascular models for describing heat transport in tissue. Analytical and numerical methods were used to predict the gross temperature distribution throughout the tissue and the small-scale temperature gradients associated with thermally significant blood vessels. The models are: 1) an array of unidirectional vessels, 2) an array of countercurrent vessels, and 3) a set of large vessels feeding small vessels which then drain into large vessels. We show that three continuum formulations of bioheat transfer (directed perfusion, effective conductivity, and a temperature-dependent heat sink) are limiting cases of the vascular models with respect to the thermal equilibration length of the vessels. When this length is comparable to the width of the heated region of tissue, the local temperature changes near the vessels can be comparable to the gross temperature elevation. These results are important to the use of thermal techniques used to measure the blood perfusion rate and in the treatment of cancer with local hyperthermia.

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