Selective Stimulation of Facial Muscles Following Chronic Intraneural Electrode Array Implantation and Facial Nerve Injury in the Feline Model

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Background:Our group has previously shown that activation of specific facial nerve (FN) fiber populations and selective activation of facial musculature can be achieved through acute intraneural multichannel microelectrode array (MEA) implantation in the feline model.Hypothesis:Selective stimulation of facial muscles will be maintained in the setting of 1) chronic and 2) acute MEA implantation after FN injury and subsequent recovery.Methods:This study included seven cats. In three cats with normal facial function, 4-channel penetrating MEAs were implanted chronically in the FN and tested biweekly for 6 months. Electrical current pulses were delivered to each channel individually, and elicited electromyographic (EMG) voltage outputs were recorded for each of several facial muscles. For FN injury experiments, two cats received a standardized hemostat-crush injury, and two cats received a transection-reapproximation injury to the FN main trunk. These four underwent acute implantation of MEA and EMG recording in terminal experiments 4 months postinjury.Results:Stimulation through individual channels selectively activated restricted nerve populations, resulting in activation of individual muscles in cats with chronic MEA implantation and after nerve injury. Increasing stimulation current levels resulted in increasing EMG voltage responses in all patients. Nerve histology showed only minor neural tissue reaction to the implant.Conclusion:We have established in the animal model the ability of a chronically implanted MEA to selectively stimulate restricted FN fiber populations and elicit activations in specific facial muscles. Likewise, after FN injury, selective stimulation of restricted FN fiber populations and subsequent activation of discrete facial muscles can be achieved after acute MEA implantation.

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