Silectrode: Novel electrodes for improved intraoperative nerve action potential recording during the treatment of peripheral nerve injuries


Program: Biomedical Engineering

Peripheral nerve injuries (PNIs) affect 20 million Americans, with symptoms ranging from pain to loss of sensation and mobility. PNIs are trauma-induced injuries of peripheral nerves, typically from the crushing or stretching of a nerve. Due to difficulties in visually assessing the functional status of a nerve, nerve conduction studies (or “inching”) are used by neurosurgeons and neurologists to determine the presence of functioning axons across the zone of a PNI. In this procedure, the nerve is electrically stimulated via an electrode to propagate a nerve action potential (NAP) down the zone of injury, while another electrode records the NAP downstream of the injury. The recorded signal is interpreted by a neurologist to determine whether the injured nerve is functional or whether surgical intervention is needed. However, electrical artifacts in the recorded signal can arise from the current testing method, particularly from the lifting of the nerve, complicating a neurosurgeon’s decision for further treatment. We propose a solution that consists of newly designed stimulating and recording electrodes, which will be wrapped and secured around the injured nerve, improving isolated nerve-electrode contact and minimizing lifting and displacement of the nerve when recording a NAP. This product is compatible with neurosurgical technology and infrastructure, minimizing the change in the current clinical workflow. Our product improves the method for surgical decision-making, potentially minimizing healthcare costs associated with follow-up treatments and unnecessary surgeries, and decreases the overall patient treatment time to allow a faster return to daily activities.

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