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J. Nicole Bentley, Cindy Chestek, William C. Stacey and Parag G. Patil

Optogenetics, the use of light to stimulate or inhibit neural circuits via viral transduction of protein channels, has emerged as a possible method of treating epilepsy. By introducing viral vectors carrying algal-derived cation or anion channels, known as opsins, neurons that initiate or propagate seizures may be silenced. To date, studies using this technique have been performed in animal models, and current efforts are moving toward more sophisticated nonhuman primate models. In this paper, the authors present a brief overview of the development of optogenetics and review recent studies investigating optogenetic modification of circuits involved in seizures. Further developments in the field are explored, with an emphasis on how optogenetics may influence future neurosurgical interventions.

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Thomas J. Wilson, Daniel A. Orringer, Stephen E. Sullivan and Parag G. Patil

Thoracic vertebral compression fractures are a known complication of generalized tetanus. The authors report the first known case of an L-2 burst fracture leading to cauda equina syndrome, as a result of generalized tetanus.

This 51-year-old man had generalized tetanus with a constellation of symptoms including compartment syndrome requiring fasciotomies, severe axial spasms and spasms of the extremities, autonomic dysreflexia, hypercarbic respiratory failure, and rhabdomyolysis. During the course of his illness, areflexic paraparesis developed in his lower extremities. He was found to have an L-2 burst fracture with retropulsion of a bone fragment resulting in cauda equina syndrome. Operative intervention was undertaken to decompress the cauda equina and stabilize the spine.

The natural progression of tetanus can be complex, with a mixed picture ranging from spasms plus increased tone and reflexes to reduced tone and reflexes as presynaptic nerve terminals become damaged. The authors suggest that all sudden changes in the neurological examination should prompt consideration of diagnostic imaging before attributing such changes to natural progression of the disease.

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Pratik Rohatgi, Nicholas B. Langhals, Daryl R. Kipke and Parag G. Patil

Object

The availability of sophisticated neural probes is a key prerequisite in the development of future brain-machine interfaces (BMIs). In this study, the authors developed and validated a neural probe design capable of simultaneous drug delivery and electrophysiology recordings in vivo. Focal drug delivery promises to extend dramatically the recording lives of neural probes, a limiting factor to clinical adoption of BMI technology.

Methods

To form the multifunctional neural probe, the authors affixed a 16-channel microfabricated silicon electrode array to a fused silica catheter. Three experiments were conducted in rats to characterize the performance of the device. Experiment 1 examined cellular damage from probe insertion and the drug distribution in tissue. Experiment 2 measured the effects of saline infusions delivered through the probe on concurrent electrophysiological measurements. Experiment 3 demonstrated that a physiologically relevant amount of drug can be delivered in a controlled fashion. For these experiments, Hoechst and propidium iodide stains were used to assess insertion trauma and the tissue distribution of the infusate. Artificial CSF (aCSF) and tetrodotoxin (TTX) were injected to determine the efficacy of drug delivery.

Results

The newly developed multifunctional neural probes were successfully inserted into rat cortex and were able to deliver fluids and drugs that resulted in the expected electrophysiological and histological responses. The damage from insertion of the device into brain tissue was substantially less than the volume of drug dispersion in tissue. Electrophysiological activity, including both individual spikes as well as local field potentials, was successfully recorded with this device during real-time drug delivery. No significant changes were seen in response to delivery of aCSF as a control experiment, whereas delivery of TTX produced the expected result of suppressing all spiking activity in the vicinity of the catheter outlet.

Conclusions

Multifunctional neural probes such as the ones developed and validated within this study have great potential to help further understand the design space and criteria for the next generation of neural probe technology. By incorporating integrated drug delivery functionality into the probes, new treatment options for neurological disorders and regenerative neural interfaces using localized and feedback-controlled delivery of drugs can be realized in the near future.

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Matthew S. Willsey, Kelly L. Collins, Erin C. Conrad, Heather A. Chubb and Parag G. Patil

OBJECTIVE

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is an uncommon idiopathic facial pain syndrome. To assist in diagnosis, treatment, and research, TN is often classified as type 1 (TN1) when pain is primarily paroxysmal and episodic or type 2 (TN2) when pain is primarily constant in character. Recently, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) has revealed microstructural changes in the symptomatic trigeminal root and root entry zone of patients with unilateral TN. In this study, the authors explored the differences in DTI parameters between subcategories of TN, specifically TN1 and TN2, in the pontine segment of the trigeminal tract.

METHODS

The authors enrolled 8 patients with unilateral TN1, 7 patients with unilateral TN2, and 23 asymptomatic controls. Patients underwent DTI with parameter measurements in a region of interest within the pontine segment of the trigeminal tract. DTI parameters were compared between groups.

RESULTS

In the pontine segment, the radial diffusivity (p = 0.0049) and apparent diffusion coefficient (p = 0.023) values in TN1 patients were increased compared to the values in TN2 patients and controls. The DTI measures in TN2 were not statistically significant from those in controls. When comparing the symptomatic to asymptomatic sides in TN1 patients, radial diffusivity was increased (p = 0.025) and fractional anisotropy was decreased (p = 0.044) in the symptomatic sides. The apparent diffusion coefficient was increased, with a trend toward statistical significance (p = 0.066).

CONCLUSIONS

Noninvasive DTI analysis of patients with TN may lead to improved diagnosis of TN subtypes (e.g., TN1 and TN2) and improve patient selection for surgical intervention. DTI measurements may also provide insights into prognosis after intervention, as TN1 patients are known to have better surgical outcomes than TN2 patients.