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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Needle electrode-based electromechanical reshaping of cartilage

  • Author(s): Manuel, CT
  • Foulad, A
  • Protsenko, DE
  • Sepehr, A
  • Wong, BJF
  • et al.

Electromechanical reshaping (EMR) of cartilage provides an alternative to the classic surgical techniques of modifying the shape of facial cartilages. The original embodiment of EMR required surface electrodes to be in direct contact with the entire cartilage region being reshaped. This study evaluates the feasibility of using needle electrode systems for EMR of facial cartilage and evaluates the relationships between electrode configuration, voltage, and application time in effecting shape change. Flat rabbit nasal septal cartilage specimens were deformed by a jig into a 90° bend, while a constant electric voltage was applied to needle electrodes that were inserted into the cartilage. The electrode configuration, voltage (0-7.5 V), and application time (1-9 min) were varied systematically to create the most effective shape change. Electric current and temperature were measured during voltage application, and the resulting specimen shape was assessed in terms of retained bend angle. In order to demonstrate the clinical feasibility of EMR, the most effective and practical settings from the septal cartilage experimentation were used to reshape intact rabbit and pig ears ex vivo. Cell viability of the cartilage after EMR was determined using confocal microscopy in conjunction with a live/dead assay. Overall, cartilage reshaping increased with increased voltage and increased application time. For all electrode configurations and application times tested, heat generation was negligible (<1 °C) up to 6 V. At 6 V, with the most effective electrode configuration, the bend angle began to significantly increase after 2 min of application time and began to plateau above 5 min. As a function of voltage at 2 min of application time, significant reshaping occurred at and above 5 V, with no significant increase in the bend angle between 6 and 7.5 V. In conclusion, electromechanical reshaping of cartilage grafts and intact ears can be effectively performed with negligible temperature elevation and spatially limited cell injury using needle electrodes. © 2010 The Author(s).

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