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Vagus nerve stimulation using a miniaturized wirelessly powered stimulator in pigs.


Neuromodulation of peripheral nerves has been clinically used for a wide range of indications. Wireless and batteryless stimulators offer important capabilities such as no need for reoperation, and extended life compared to their wired counterparts. However, there are challenging trade-offs between the device size and its operating range, which can limit their use. This study aimed to examine the functionality of newly designed wirelessly powered and controlled implants in vagus nerve stimulation for pigs. The implant used near field inductive coupling at 13.56 MHz industrial, scientific, and medical band to harvest power from an external coil. The circular implant had a diameter of 13 mm and weighed 483 mg with cuff electrodes. The efficiency of the inductive link and robustness to distance and misalignment were optimized. As a result, the specific absorption rate was orders of magnitude lower than the safety limit, and the stimulation can be performed using only 0.1 W of external power. For the first time, wireless and batteryless VNS with more than 5 cm operation range was demonstrated in pigs. A total of 84 vagus nerve stimulations (10 s each) have been performed in three adult pigs. In a quantitative comparison of the effectiveness of VNS devices, the efficiency of systems on reducing heart rate was similar in both conventional (75%) and wireless (78.5%) systems. The pulse width and frequency of the stimulation were swept on both systems, and the response for physiological markers was drawn. The results were easily reproducible, and methods used in this study can serve as a basis for future wirelessly powered implants.

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