Neural interface technology may enable the development of novel therapies to treat neurological conditions, including motor prostheses for spinal cord injury. Intracranial neural interfaces currently require a craniotomy to achieve implantation and may result in chronic tissue inflammation. Novel approaches are required that achieve less invasive implantation methods while maintaining high spatial resolution. An endovascular stent electrode array avoids direct brain trauma and is able to record electrocorticography in local cortical tissue from within the venous vasculature. The motor area in sheep runs in a parasagittal plane immediately adjacent to the superior sagittal sinus (SSS). The authors aimed to develop a sheep model of cerebral venography that would enable validation of an endovascular neural interface.
Cerebral catheter venography was performed in 39 consecutive sheep. Contrast-enhanced MRI of the brain was performed on 13 animals. Multiple telescoping coaxial catheter systems were assessed to determine the largest wide-bore delivery catheter that could be delivered into the anterior SSS. Measurements of SSS diameter and distance from the motor area were taken. The location of the motor area was determined in relation to lateral and superior projections of digital subtraction venography images and confirmed on MRI.
The venous pathway from the common jugular vein (7.4 mm) to the anterior SSS (1.2 mm) was technically challenging to selectively catheterize. The SSS coursed immediately adjacent to the motor cortex (< 1 mm) for a length of 40 mm, or the anterior half of the SSS. Attempted access with 5-Fr and 6-Fr delivery catheters was associated with longer procedure times and higher complication rates. A 4-Fr catheter (internal lumen diameter 1.1 mm) was successful in accessing the SSS in 100% of cases with no associated complications. Complications included procedure-related venous dissection in two major areas: the torcular herophili, and the anterior formation of the SSS. The bifurcation of the cruciate sulcal veins with the SSS was a reliable predictor of the commencement of the motor area.
The ovine model for cerebral catheter venography has generalizability to the human cerebral venous system in relation to motor cortex location. This novel model may facilitate the development of the novel field of endovascular neural interfaces that may include preclinical investigations for cortical recording applications such as paralysis and epilepsy, as well as other potential applications in neuromodulation.