Plast Reconstr Surg 2010 Dec;126(6):1865-73
Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0340, USA.
Background: Bionic limbs require sensitive, durable, and physiologically relevant bidirectional control interfaces. Modern central nervous system interfacing is high risk, low fidelity, and failure prone. Peripheral nervous system interfaces will mitigate this risk and increase fidelity by greatly simplifying signal interpretation and delivery. This study evaluates in vivo relevance of a hybrid peripheral nervous system interface consisting of biological acellular muscle scaffolds made electrically conductive using poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene).
Methods: Peripheral nervous system interfaces were tested in vivo using the rat hind-limb conduction-gap model for motor (peroneal) and sensory (sural) nerves. Experimental groups included acellular muscle, iron(III) chloride-treated acellular muscle, and poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) polymerized on acellular muscle, each compared with intact nerve, autogenous nerve graft, and empty (nonreconstructed) nerve gap controls (n=5 for each). Interface lengths tested included 0, 5, 10, and 20 mm. Immediately following implantation, the interface underwent electrophysiologic characterization in vivo using nerve conduction studies, compound muscle action potentials, and antidromic sensory nerve action potentials.
Results: Both efferent and afferent electrophysiology demonstrates acellular muscle-poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) interfaces conduct physiologic action potentials across nerve conduction gaps of at least 20 mm with amplitude and latency not differing from intact nerve or nerve grafts, with the exception of increased velocity in the acellular muscle-poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) interfaces.
Conclusions: Nonmetallic, biosynthetic acellular muscle-poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) peripheral nervous system interfaces both sense and stimulate physiologically relevant efferent and afferent action potentials in vivo. This demonstrates their relevance not only as a nerve-electronic coupling device capable of reaching the long-sought goal of closed-loop neural control of a prosthetic limb, but also in a multitude of other bioelectrical applications.