Neural and connective tissue response to long-term implantation of multiple contact nerve cuff electrodes.
The objective of this study was to characterize the tissue response to multiple contact spiral nerve cuff electrodes implanted on the sciatic nerve of seven cats for 28-34 weeks. The cuffs were surrounded by fibrous tissue encapsulation consisting of foreign body cells, collagen, and fibroblasts. Focal areas of abnormal neural morphology including perineurial thickening, endoneurial fibrosis, thinly myelinated axons, and focal reduction in the density of myelinated axons were noted in five of seven nerves. In three implants, the percutaneous lead cable was destroyed by the animal pulling on the external leads. Morphological changes were observed in two of three nerves from implants sustaining no known animal induced trauma (group A), and in three of four nerves from implants damaged by the animal pulling at the leads (group B). All nerves appeared normal 2 cm proximal to the cuff. At the cuff level, small regions of one fascicle in each of two nerves (both group B) exhibited abnormalities, while the proximal and distal sections of both nerves were normal. Distal to the cuff, small regions of seven fascicles distributed among three nerves (two group A, one group B) exhibited abnormalities. These nerves were normal at the cuff level but exhibited abnormalities in individual nerve branches distal to the cuff. The incidence and characteristics of the morphological abnormalities at the cuff level are consistent with those observed in previous studies of nerve cuff electrodes, and support the hypothesis that spiral cuff electrodes can be implanted with an internal diameter less than that of the nerve and expand to accommodate the nerve without compression The pattern of morphological abnormalities indicated that mechanical trauma had occurred at some time in the past, and the distribution suggested animal intervention and the lead cable as possible causes.
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