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The flat interface nerve electrode (FINE) is an attempt to improve the stimulation selectivity of extraneural electrodes. By reshaping peripheral nerves into elliptical cylinders, central fibers are moved closer to the nerve-electrode interface, and additional surface area is created for contact placement. The goals of this study were to test the hypothesis that greater nerve reshaping leads to improved selectivity and to examine the chronic recruitment properties of the FINE. Three FINEs were developed to reshape peripheral nerves to different degrees. Four electrodes of each type were implanted on the sciatic nerves of 12 cats and tested for selectivity over at least three months. There was physiologic evidence of nerve injury in two cats with the tightest cuffs, but the other animals behaved normally. All cuff types were capable of selectively activating branches of the sciatic nerve, as well as groups of fibers within branches. The electrodes that moderately reshaped the nerves demonstrated the most selectivity. Both the selectivity measurements and the recruitment curve characteristics were stable throughout the implant period. From an electrophysiological standpoint, the FINE is a viable alternative for neuroprosthetic devices. A histological analysis of the nerves is under way to evaluate the safety of the FINE.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2004