Reversible nerve conduction block using kilohertz frequency alternating current

Neuromodulation. 2014 Apr;17(3):242-54; discussion 254-5. doi: 10.1111/ner.12100. Epub 2013 Aug 7.


Objectives: The features and clinical applications of balanced-charge kilohertz frequency alternating currents (KHFAC) are reviewed. Preclinical studies of KHFAC block have demonstrated that it can produce an extremely rapid and reversible block of nerve conduction. Recent systematic analysis and experimentation utilizing KHFAC block have resulted in a significant increase in interest in KHFAC block, both scientifically and clinically.

Materials and methods: We review the history and characteristics of KHFAC block, the methods used to investigate this type of block, the experimental evaluation of block, and the electrical parameters and electrode designs needed to achieve successful block. We then analyze the existing clinical applications of high-frequency currents, comparing the early results with the known features of KHFAC block.

Results: Although many features of KHFAC block have been characterized, there is still much that is unknown regarding the response of neural structures to rapidly fluctuating electrical fields. The clinical reports to date do not provide sufficient information to properly evaluate the mechanisms that result in successful or unsuccessful treatment.

Conclusions: KHFAC nerve block has significant potential as a means of controlling nerve activity for the purpose of treating disease. However, early clinical studies in the use of high-frequency currents for the treatment of pain have not been designed to elucidate mechanisms or allow direct comparisons to preclinical data. We strongly encourage the careful reporting of the parameters utilized in these clinical studies, as well as the development of outcome measures that could illuminate the mechanisms of this modality.

Keywords: Electrical stimulation; high frequency; kilo hertz frequency nerve block; nerve block; pain block; spasticity block.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / instrumentation
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / trends
  • Electricity
  • Humans
  • Models, Animal
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Nerve Fibers / ultrastructure
  • Neural Conduction*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiology
  • Peripheral Nerves / ultrastructure
  • Spinal Cord / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / ultrastructure
  • Urination Disorders / therapy