Nerve conduction block utilising high-frequency alternating current

Med Biol Eng Comput. 2004 May;42(3):394-406. doi: 10.1007/BF02344716.


High-frequency alternating current (AC) waveforms have been shown to produce a quickly reversible nerve block in animal models, but the parameters and mechanism of this block are not well understood. A frog sciatic nerve/gastrocnemius muscle preparation was used to examine the parameters for nerve conduction block in vivo, and a computer simulation of the nerve membrane was used to identify the mechanism for block. The results indicated that a 100% block of motor activity can be accomplished with a variety of waveform parameters, including sinusoidal and rectangular waveforms at frequencies from 2 kHz to 20 kHz. A complete and reversible block was achieved in 34 out of 34 nerve preparations tested. The most efficient waveform for conduction block was a 3-5 kHz constant-current biphasic sinusoid, where block could be achieved with stimulus levels as low as 0.01 microCphase(-1). It was demonstrated that the block was not produced indirectly through fatigue. Computer simulation of high-frequency AC demonstrated a steady-state depolarisation of the nerve membrane, and it is hypothesised that the conduction block was due to this tonic depolarisation. The precise relationship between the steady-state depolarisation and the conduction block requires further analysis. The results of this study demonstrated that high-frequency AC can be used to produce a fast-acting, and quickly reversible nerve conduction block that may have multiple applications in the treatment of unwanted neural activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Models, Biological
  • Nerve Block / methods*
  • Neural Conduction
  • Rana catesbeiana
  • Sciatic Nerve / physiology