Peripheral Nerve Regeneration by Electrical Stimulation
Procedures which facilitate and improve the regeneration of injured peripheral nerves have been sought by many investigators during the last 150 years. The commonly accepted practice of electrically stimulating denervated muscles to avoid atrophy of peripheral muscles, while reinnervation occurs, led investigators to consider supplying an electrical stimulus directly to the peripheral nerve to enhance regeneration. Development and adaptation of special implantable electronic equipment by Medtronic, Inc. for this project made reinvestigation feasible. This technique has been considered for about 100 years without success. The posterior tibial nerve was divided bilaterally in dogs, reanastomosed, then electrodes applied proximal and distal to the anastomosis, and an easily stimulated receiver implanted bilaterally. Twice a day for 15 minutes the posterior tibial nerve was stimulated on one side. EMC studies were performed at regular intervals and return of an evoked potential was used as evidence of regeneration. Histological studies were performed of the nerve anastomosis and of the myoneural junction. This paper presents a series of six dogs thus studied.