An apparatus and method for thermally destroying tumors in which heat is generated by electrical resistance heating conducted to the target tissue. Computerized scanning is used to optimize the geometry of a thermal probe. The probe has a metal tip heated by a remote laser. The metal tip is mounted on the end of a wave guide fiber for transmitting the laser radiation to the metal tip. The tip is coated with a thin layer of biocompatible ceramic to avoid coagulated tissue sticking to the tip. The tip has one or more thin, thermally-conductive elements which deploy in stages to coagulate the tumor. The conductive elements may be thin wires or blades. On one embodiment, the conductive elements are composed of a shape memory material that is folded against the tip at lower temperatures and deploys at selected higher temperatures. In another embodiment, the conductive elements are blades that are deployed mechanically. The tip may be provided with a miniature thermocouple to provide temperature feedback information.
An apparatus for the thermal treatment of tissues, comprising: a wave guide fiber having an end; a metal tip mounted to said end of said wave guide fiber; heating means comprising a remote laser for generating laser radiation for transmission through said wave guide fiber for heating said metal tip; power means for connecting said laser to a source of electrical power; and deployable thermal conductive means operatively connected to said tip for conduction of heat generated by said heating means.