Non-invasive assessment of corneal endothelial permeability by means of electrical impedance measurements

Med Eng Phys. 2010 Dec;32(10):1107-15. doi: 10.1016/j.medengphy.2010.07.016. Epub 2010 Sep 15.


The permeability of the corneal endothelial layer has an important role in the correct function of the cornea. Since ionic permeability has a fundamental impact on the passive electrical properties of living tissues, here it is hypothesized that impedance methods can be employed for assessing the permeability of the endothelial layer in a minimally invasive fashion. Precisely, the main objective of the present study is to develop and to analyze a minimally invasive method for assessing the electrical properties of the corneal endothelium, as a possible diagnostic tool for the evaluation of patients with endothelial dysfunction. A bidimensional model consisting of the main corneal layers and a four-electrode impedance measurement setup placed on the epithelium has been implemented and analyzed by means of the finite elements method (FEM). In order to obtain a robust indicator of the permeability of the endothelium layer, the effect of the endothelium electrical properties on the measured impedance has been studied together with reasonable variations of the other model layers. Simulation results show that the impedance measurements by means of external electrodes are indeed sufficiently sensitive to the changes in the electrical properties of the endothelial layer. It is concluded that the method presented here can be employed as non-invasive method for assessing endothelial layer function.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Engineering / methods*
  • Electric Impedance*
  • Endothelium, Corneal / abnormalities
  • Endothelium, Corneal / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Corneal / pathology*
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Humans
  • Permeability
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity