This paper describes a new tripolar spiral cuff electrode, composed of a thin (10 μm) and flexible polyimide insulating carrier and three circumneural platinum electrodes, suitable for stimulation of peripheral nerves. The cuffs were implanted around the sciatic nerve of two groups of ten rats each, one in which the polyimide ribbon was attached to a plastic connector to characterize the in vivo stimulating properties of the electrode, and one without a connector for testing possible mechanical nerve damage by means of functional and histological methods. The polyimide cuff electrodes induced only a very mild foreign body reaction and did not change the nerve shape over a 2-6 month implantation period. There were no changes in the motor and sensory nerve conduction tests, nociceptive responses and walking track pattern over follow-up, and no morphological evidence of axonal loss or demyelination, except in one case with partial demyelination of some large fibers after 6 months. By delivering single electrical pulses through the cuff electrodes graded recruitment curves of α-motor nerve fibers were obtained. Recruitment of all motor units was achieved with a mean charge density lower than 4 μC/cm2 for a pulse width of 50 μs at the time of implantation as well as 45 days thereafter. These data indicate that the polyimide cuff electrode is a stable stimulating device, with physical properties and dimensions that avoid nerve compression or activity-induced axonal damage. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
- Functional electrical stimulation
- Neural prosthesis
- Passive neural damage
- Peripheral nerve
- Spiral cuff