Implantable cooler to temporarily block nerve conduction and ease pain
30 June 2022
|Soft, bioresorbable coolers for reversible conduction block of peripheral nerves
Reeder et al. developed a soft, miniaturized, implantable cooler to temporarily block nerve conduction using a liquid-to-gas phase transition as the cooling mechanism (see the Perspective by Jiang and Hong). They borrowed the design of electrical nerve cuff and substituted electrical wires with a microfluidic channel carrying a microliter volume of bioinert coolant. A thermal thin-film sensor integrated within the cuff enabled monitoring of the temperature in real time, thus enabling closed-loop control.
|Implantable devices capable of targeted and reversible blocking of peripheral nerve activity may provide alternatives to opioids for treating pain. Local cooling represents an attractive means for on-demand elimination of pain signals, but traditional technologies are limited by rigid, bulky form factors; imprecise cooling; and requirements for extraction surgeries. Here, we introduce soft, bioresorbable, microfluidic devices that enable delivery of focused, minimally invasive cooling power at arbitrary depths in living tissues with real-time temperature feedback control. Construction with water-soluble, biocompatible materials leads to dissolution and bioresorption as a mechanism to eliminate unnecessary device load and risk to the patient without additional surgeries.
|Reeder JT, Xie Z, Yang Q et al.
SCIENCE, 30 Jun 2022, Vol 377, Issue 6601, pp. 109-115
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