Nicolai et al Stimulates Vagus Nerve with Endovascular Electrode Array

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This post has been adapted from the abstract from Vagus Nerve Stimulation Using an Endovascular Electrode Array – Evan N Nicolai, Jorge Arturo Larco, Sarosh I Madhani, Samuel J Asirvatham, Su-youne Chang, Kip A Ludwig, Luis E Savastano and Gregory A Worrell as featured in Journal of Engineering, Vol 20, No. 4.

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is approved clinically for the treatment of epilepsy, depression, and to facilitate rehabilitation in stroke. In this study we investigated endovascular VNS that may allow activation of the VN at locations where the motor nerve fibers are not localized.

Endovascular electrodes were used within the nearby internal jugular vein (IJV) to electrically stimulate the VN while recording VN compound action potentials (CAPs) and neck muscle motor evoked potentials (MEPs). It was shown that the stimulation electrode position within the IJV is critical for efficient activation of the VN. At the most effective endovascular stimulation locations tested, thresholds for VN activation were several times higher than direct stimulation of the nerve using a cuff electrode. This work demonstrates the feasibility of VNS with endovascular electrodes and provides tools to optimize endovascular electrode positions for VNS; and lays the foundation to develop endovascular VNS strategies to stimulate at VN locations that would be otherwise too invasive and at VN locations where structures such as motor nerve fibers do not exist.

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