Identifying the Role of Block Length in Neural Heat Block to Reduce Temperatures During Infrared Neural Inhibition.


Ford JB(1)(2), Ganguly M(1)(2), Poorman ME(1)(3), Grissom WA(1)(3), Jenkins MW(4)(5), Chiel HJ(4)(6)(7), Jansen ED(1)(2)(8).
Author information:
(1)Department of Biomedical Engineering, Vanderbilt University, 5824 Stevenson Center, Nashville, Tennessee, 37232.
(2)Biophotonics Center, Vanderbilt University, 410 24th Ave S, Nashville, Tennessee, 37232.
(3)Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Sciences, Vanderbilt University, 1161 21st Ave South, Nashville, Tennessee, 37232.
(4)Department of Biomedical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, 10900 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, Ohio, 44106.
(5)Department of Pediatrics, Case Western Reserve University, 2109 Adelbert Rd, Cleveland, Ohio, 44106.
(6)Department of Biology, Case Western Reserve University, 2080 Adelbert Rd, Cleveland, Ohio, 44106.
(7)Department of Neurosciences, Case Western Reserve University, 2210 Circle Drive, Cleveland, Ohio, 44106.
(8)Department of Neurological Surgery, Vanderbilt University, 1161 21st Ave South, Nashville, Tennessee, 37232.


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study is to assess the hypothesis that the length of axon heated, defined here as block length (BL), affects the temperature required for thermal inhibition of action potential propagation applied using laser heating. The presence of such a phenomenon has implications for how this technique, called infrared neural inhibition (INI), may be applied in a clinically safe manner since it suggests that temperatures required for therapy may be reduced through the proper spatial application of light. Here, we validate the presence of this phenomenon by assessing how the peak temperatures during INI are reduced when two different BLs are applied using irradiation from either one or two adjacent optical fibers. STUDY DESIGN/MATERIALS AND METHODS: Assessment of the role of BL was carried out over two phases. First, a computational proof of concept was performed in the neural conduction simulation environment, NEURON, simulating the response of action potentials to increased temperatures applied at different full-width at half-maxima (FWHM) along axons. Second, ex vivo validation of these predictions was performed by measuring the radiant exposure, peak temperature rise, and FWHM of heat distributions associated with INI from one or two adjacent optical fibers. Electrophysiological assessment of radiant exposures at inhibition threshold were carried out in ex vivo Aplysia californica (sea slug) pleural abdominal nerves ( n = 6), an invertebrate with unmyelinated axons. Measurement of the maximum temperature rise required for induced heat block was performed in a water bath using a fine wire thermocouple. Finally, magnetic resonance thermometry (MRT) was performed on a nerve immersed in saline to assess the elevated temperature distribution at these radiant exposures. RESULTS: Computational modeling in NEURON provided a theoretical proof of concept that the BL is an important factor contributing to the peak temperature required during neural heat block, predicting a 11.7% reduction in temperature rise when the FWHM along an axon is increased by 42.9%. Experimental validation showed that, when using two adjacent fibers instead of one, a 38.5 ± 2.2% (mean ± standard error of the mean) reduction in radiant exposure per pulse per fiber threshold at the fiber output (P = 7.3E-6) is measured, resulting in a reduction in peak temperature rise under each fiber of 23.5  ± 2.1% ( P = 9.3E-5) and 15.0 ± 2.4% ( P = 1.4E-3) and an increase in the FWHM of heating by 37.7 ± 6.4% ( P = 1E-3), 68.4 ± 5.2% ( P = 2.4E-5), and 51.9  ± 9.9% ( P = 1.7E-3) in three MRT slices. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides the first experimental evidence for a phenomenon during the heat block in which the temperature for inhibition is dependent on the BL. While more work is needed to further reduce the temperature during INI, the results highlight that spatial application of the temperature rise during INI must be considered. Optimized implementation of INI may leverage this cellular response to provide optical modulation of neural signals with lower temperatures over greater time periods, which may increase the utility of the technique for laboratory and clinical use. Lasers Surg. Med. © 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.