Experimental evaluation of neural probe's insertion induced injury based on digital image correlation method




The application of neural probes in clinic has been challenged by probes' short lifetime when implanted into brain tissue. The primary goal is to develop an evaluation system for testing brain tissue injury induced by neural probe's insertion using microscope based digital image correlation method.


A brain tissue phantom made of silicone rubber with speckle pattern on its surface was fabricated. To obtain the optimal speckle pattern, mean intensity gradient parameter was used for quality assessment. The designed testing system consists of three modules: (a) load module for simulating neural electrode implantation process; (b) data acquisition module to capture micrographs of speckle pattern and to obtain reactive forces during the insertion of the probe; (c) postprocessing module for extracting tissue deformation information from the captured speckle patterns. On the basis of the evaluation system, the effects of probe wedge angle, insertion speed, and probe streamline on insertion induced tissue injury were investigated.


The optimal quality speckle pattern can be attained by the following fabrication parameters: spin coating rate—1000 r/min, silicone rubber component A: silicone rubber component B: softener: graphite = 5 ml: 5 ml: 2 ml: 0.6 g. The probe wedge angle has a significant effect on tissue injury. Compared to wedge angle 40° and 20°, maximum principal strain of 60° wedge angle was increased by 40.3% and 87.5%, respectively; compared with a relatively higher speed (500 μm/s), the maximum principle strain within the tissue induced by slow insertion speed (100 μm/s) was increased by 14.3%; insertion force required by probe with convex streamline was smaller than the force of traditional probe. Based on the experimental results, a novel neural probe that has a rounded tip covered by a biodegradable silk protein coating with convex streamline was proposed, which has both lower insertion and micromotion induced tissue injury.


The established evaluation system has provided a simulation environment for testing brain tissue injury produced by various insertion conditions. At the same time, it eliminates the adverse effect of biological factors on tissue deformation during the experiment, improving the repeatability of measurement results. As a result, the evaluation system will provide support on novel neural probe design that can reduce the acute tissue injury during the implantation of the probe.