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Matthias Ringkamp, Matthew Wooten, Benjamin S. Carson Sr., Michael Lim, Timothy Hartke and Michael Guarnieri


Percutaneous treatments for trigeminal neuralgia are safe, simple, and effective for achieving good pain control. Procedural risks could be minimized by using noninvasive imaging techniques to improve the placement of the radiofrequency thermocoagulation probe into the trigeminal ganglion. Positioning of a probe is crucial to maximize pain relief and to minimize unwanted side effects, such as denervation in unaffected areas. This investigation examined the use of laser speckle imaging during probe placement in an animal model.


This preclinical safety study used nonhuman primates, Macaca nemestrina (pigtail monkeys), to examine whether real-time imaging of blood flow in the face during the positioning of a coagulation probe could monitor the location and guide the positioning of the probe within the trigeminal ganglion.


Data from 6 experiments in 3 pigtail monkeys support the hypothesis that laser imaging is safe and improves the accuracy of probe placement.


Noninvasive laser speckle imaging can be performed safely in nonhuman primates. Because improved probe placement may reduce morbidity associated with percutaneous rhizotomies, efficacy trials of laser speckle imaging should be conducted in humans.

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Gang Wu, Allan Belzberg, Jessica Nance, Sergio Gutierrez-Hernandez, Eva K. Ritzl and Matthias Ringkamp


Intraoperative nerve action potential (NAP) recording is a useful tool for surgeons to guide decisions on surgical approaches during nerve repair surgeries. However, current methods remain technically challenging. In particular, stimulus artifacts that contaminate or mask the NAP and therefore impair the interpretation of the recording are a common problem. The authors’ goal was to improve intraoperative NAP recording techniques by revisiting the methods in an experimental setting.


First, NAPs were recorded from surgically exposed peripheral nerves in monkeys. For the authors to test their assumptions about observed artifacts, they then employed a simple model system. Finally, they applied their insights to clinical cases in the operating room.


In monkey peripheral nerve recordings, large stimulus artifacts obscured NAPs every time the nerve segment (length 3–5 cm) was lifted up from the surrounding tissue, and NAPs could not be recorded. Artifacts were suppressed, and NAPs emerged when “bridge grounding” was applied, and this allowed the NAPs to be recorded easily and reliably. Tests in a model system suggested that exaggerated stimulus artifacts and unmasking of NAPs by bridge grounding are related to a loop effect that is created by lifting the nerve. Consequently, clean NAPs were acquired in “nonlifting” recordings from monkey peripheral nerves. In clinical cases, bridge grounding efficiently unmasked intraoperative NAP recordings, validating the authors’ principal concept in the clinical setting and allowing effective neurophysiological testing in the operating room.


Technical challenges of intraoperative NAP recording are embedded in the current methods that recommend lifting the nerve from the tissue bed, thereby exaggerating stimulus artifacts by a loop effect. Better results can be achieved by performing nonlifting nerve recording or by applying bridge grounding. The authors not only tested their findings in an animal model but also applied them successfully in clinical practice.