Modeling Trans-Spinal Direct Current Stimulation in the Presence of Spinal Implants

April 24, 2019

A. KuckD. F. StegemanE.H.F. van Asseldonk

Modeling Trans-Spinal Direct Current Stimulation in the Presence of Spinal Implants

Trans-spinal Direct Current Stimulation (tsDCS) is a technique considered for the treatment of corticospinal damage or dysfunction. TsDCS aims to induce functional modulation in the corticospinal circuitry via a direct current (DC) generated electric field. To ensure subject safety, subjects with metallic implants are generally excluded from receiving neural DC stimulation. However, spinal injuries often require spinal implants for stabilization. Our goal was to investigate implant imposed changes to electric field (EF) and current density (CD) magnitude during tsDCS. We simulated the EF and CD, generated by tsDCS in the presence of spinal rods for two electrode configurations and four implant locations along the spinal cord. For each scenario a noimplant condition was computed for comparison. We assessed changes in EF and CD at the implant location and the EF inside the spinal cord. Our results show that implant presence was able to influence peak CD, compared to the no-implant condition. Nonetheless, the highest calculated CD levels were a factor six lower than those thought to lead to hazardous tissue damaging effects. Additionally, implant presence did not considerably affect the average EF inside the spinal cord. Our findings do therefore not indicate potentially unsafe CD levels, or significant alterations to stimulation intensity inside the spinal cord, caused by a spinal implant during tsDCS. Our results are relevant to the safety of transcutaneous spinal stimulation applied in the presence of metallic spinal implants.

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