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Electrical Stimulation Implant Bypasses Open Brain Surgery

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Melbourne researchers have developed a permanent implantable device that electrically stimulates the brain from inside a blood vessel. The device, called a Stentrode, could lead to a range of potential treatments that currently require open brain surgery, including deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and motor neurone disease.

Deep brain stimulation requires open brain surgery, with one or more holes drilled through the skull so the electrodes can penetrate the brain. The Stentrode, however, can place electrodes into the brain via blood vessels originating in the neck.

The researchers implanted a 4 mm diameter Stentrode into blood vessels in sheep, and achieved localised stimulation of brain tissue. “Stimulation-induced responses of the facial muscles and limbs were observed, and were comparable to those obtained with electrodes implanted following invasive surgery,” the researchers announced in Nature Biomedical Engineering. ( However, “additional data is required to validate chronic safety and efficacy of the Stentrode”.

Lead researcher Dr Nick Opie of the University of Melbourne said the Stentrode could operate as “a two-way digital communication device. In one application, the Stentrode could be used as a tool to record the onset of an...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.