Feasibility Study for a High-Frequency Flexible Ultrasonic Cuff for High-Precision Vagus Nerve Ultrasound Neuromodulation

IEEE Trans Ultrason Ferroelectr Freq Control. 2024 Mar 26;PP. doi: 10.1109/TUFFC.2024.3381923. Online ahead of print.


In the emerging research field of bioelectronic medicine, it has been indicated that neuromodulation of the Vagus Nerve (VN) has the potential to treat various conditions such as epilepsy, depression, and autoimmune diseases. In order to reduce side effects, as well as to increase the effectiveness of the delivered therapy, sub-fascicle stimulation specificity is required. In the electrical domain, increasing spatial selectivity can only be achieved using invasive and potentially damaging approaches like compressive forces or nerve penetration. To avoid these invasive methods while obtaining a high spatial selectivity, a 2 mm diameter extraneural cuff-shaped proof-of-concept design with integrated Lead Zirconate Titanate (PZT) based ultrasound (US) transducers is proposed in this paper. For the development of the proposed concept, wafer-level microfabrication techniques are employed. Moreover, acoustic measurements are performed on the device, in order to characterize the ultrasonic beam profiles of the integrated PZT-based US transducers. A focal spot size of around 200 μm by 200 μm is measured for the proposed cuff. Moreover, the curvature of the device leads to constructive interference of the US waves originating from multiple PZT-based US transducers, which in turn leads to an increase of 45% in focal pressure compared to the focal pressure of a single PZT-based US transducer. Integrating PZT-based US transducers in an extraneural cuff-shaped design has the potential to achieve high-precision US neuromodulation of the Vagus Nerve without requiring intraneural implantation.

PMID:38530712 | DOI:10.1109/TUFFC.2024.3381923