Thermal modelling of ablative techniques in pelvic venous reflux

This project will use computer modelling to investigate how new thermal methods of surgery can revolutionise treatment of venous disease from within the body.

4 years
Application deadline
Funding source
This is an EPSRC CASE studentship co-funded by The Whiteley Clinic
Funding information

The studentship covers fees and an enhanced tax-free stipend starting at £18,000 per annum.


Venous reflux in the legs has been treated very successfully in the past two decades 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 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 then 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 methods including the 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. 

Related links
Centre for Biomedical Engineering The Whiteley Clinic

The project will be based principally at the University of Surrey’s campus in Guildford, but will also offer you the opportunity to take several months of the degree at the Whiteley Clinic’s site, also in Guildford. This will give the you an opportunity to experience research and development in both academic and clinical/commercial environments.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for this studentship you will need to have a first class honours degree in either engineering or physics. This studentship is only available for UK students only.

How to apply

To apply for this studentship, you will in the first instance need to apply for our Biomedical Engineering PhD. In your application, please mention this studentship to be considered. 

Biomedical Engineering PhD

Application deadline

Contact details

Michael Hughes
19 AA 02
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 686775

The Centre for Biomedical Engineering

The Centre for Biomedical Engineering at the University of Surrey is the oldest such unit in England, having been established in 1966. We have a broad range of research expertise, from tissue modelling to human movement analysis, biomedical signal processing, biomaterials and cell electrophysiology.

The Whiteley Clinic

The Whiteley Clinic is a leading centre of expertise in treatment of venous disease. Led by Professor Mark Whiteley, it is a leader in the practice, education and research in venous disease and its treatment.


Studentships at Surrey

We have a wide range of studentship opportunities available.