Long-Term Excitability and Fine Tuning of Nerve Pedicles Reinnervating Strap Muscles in the Dog

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Contraction of paralyzed striated muscles has been restored by stimulating reinnervating pedicles with currents of low intensity. In order to allow clinical application, stable, long-term excitability must emulate the parameters necessary for the stimulation of normal motor nerves. In 6 dogs, the ansa hypoglossi nerve was implanted into the contralateral denervated sternohyoid muscle and surrounded with a bipolar cuff electrode. Three of the reinnervating pedicles were chronically paced with a Medtronic Itrel II Multiprogrammable Pulse Generator (0.5 V, 0.2 second on [30 pulses per second, 0.21-millisecond pulse width], 2.9 seconds off). At reexploration after 8 months (6 months for 1 dog), frank contraction confirmed by electromyography tracings occurred in all animals with currents in the range of 0.1 to 0.5 mA. Muscle force was further manipulated by selective release of blocking currents (600 Hz, 1.7 to 0.4 mA) superimposed over regular stimulation (50 Hz, 0.3 to 1.7 mA). Nerve and muscle vitality were histologically confirmed. Long-term, low-intensity conduction capabilities, fine tuning, good tolerance of implanted electrodes, and lack of fatigue suggest that reinnervating pedicles may be successfully used for pacing when clinically indicated.

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