Non-invasive peripheral nerve stimulation via focused ultrasound in vivo

Phys Med Biol. 2018 Jan 26;63(3):035011. doi: 10.1088/1361-6560/aa9fc2.


Focused ultrasound (FUS) has been employed on a wide range of clinical applications to safely and non-invasively achieve desired effects that have previously required invasive and lengthy procedures with conventional methods. Conventional electrical neuromodulation therapies that are applied to the peripheral nervous system (PNS) are invasive and/or non-specific. Recently, focused ultrasound has demonstrated the ability to modulate the central nervous system and ex vivo peripheral neurons. Here, for the first time, noninvasive stimulation of the sciatic nerve eliciting a physiological response in vivo is demonstrated with FUS. FUS was applied on the sciatic nerve in mice with simultaneous electromyography (EMG) on the tibialis anterior muscle. EMG signals were detected during or directly after ultrasound stimulation along with observable muscle contraction of the hind limb. Transecting the sciatic nerve downstream of FUS stimulation eliminated EMG activity during FUS stimulation. Peak-to-peak EMG response amplitudes and latency were found to be comparable to conventional electrical stimulation methods. Histology along with behavioral and thermal testing did not indicate damage to the nerve or surrounding regions. The findings presented herein demonstrate that FUS can serve as a targeted, safe and non-invasive alternative to conventional peripheral nervous system stimulation to treat peripheral neuropathic diseases in the clinic.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Electromyography
  • Hindlimb / diagnostic imaging
  • Hindlimb / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Peripheral Nerves / diagnostic imaging
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiology*
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation / methods*
  • Ultrasonography / methods*