Background In animal models, focused ultrasound can reversibly or permanently inhibit nerve conduction, suggesting a potential role in managing pain. We hypothesized focused ultrasound’s effects on action potential parameters may be similar to those of local anesthetics.
Methods In an ex vivo rat sciatic nerve model, action potential amplitude, area under the curve, latency to 10% peak, latency to 100% peak, rate of rise, and half peak width changes were assessed after separately applying increasing focused ultrasound pressures or concentrations of bupivacaine and ropivacaine. Focused ultrasound’s effects on nerve structure were examined histologically.
Results Increasing focused ultrasound pressures decreased action potential amplitude, area under the curve, and rate of rise, increased latency to 10% peak, and did not change latency to 100% peak or half peak width. Increasing local anesthetic concentrations decreased action potential amplitude, area under the curve, and rate of rise and increased latency to 10% peak, latency to 100% peak, and half peak width. At the highest focused ultrasound pressures, nerve architecture was altered compared with controls.
Discussion While some action potential parameters were altered comparably by focused ultrasound and local anesthetics, there were small but notable differences. It is not evident if these differences may lead to differences in clinical pain effects when focused ultrasound is applied in vivo or if focused ultrasound pressures that result in clinically relevant changes damage nerve structures. Given the potential advantages of a non-invasive technique for managing pain conditions, further investigation may be warranted in an in vivo pain model.
- pain management
- regional anesthesia
Data availability statement
Data are available on reasonable request.
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Contributors JD, SS and NB: This author helped with data collection, data analysis, writing and final approval of the manuscript. JV-M, RBS, KB-P and DY: This author helped with research conceptualization, data analysis, data interpretation, writing and final approval of the manuscript. TAA: This author helped with research conceptualization and design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, writing and final approval of the manuscript and is the guarantor of the overall content.
Funding TAA and RBS received funding from a Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research Mentored Research Training Grant (Washington D.C.). DY is supported by DOD CDMRP grant 13113162, NIH grant UG3NS11563701, and NIH grant R21NS08884102. All additional support was provided from institutional and/or departmental sources.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.