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Tissue damage thresholds during therapeutic electrical stimulation.

Stuart F Cogan, Kip A Ludwig, Cristin G Welle, Pavel Takmakov


Recent initiatives in bioelectronic modulation of the nervous system by the NIH (SPARC), DARPA (ElectRx, SUBNETS) and the GlaxoSmithKline Bioelectronic Medicines effort are ushering in a new era of therapeutic electrical stimulation. These novel therapies are prompting a re-evaluation of established electrical thresholds for stimulation-induced tissue damage.


In this review, we explore what is known and unknown in published literature regarding tissue damage from electrical stimulation.

Main results:

For macroelectrodes, the potential for tissue damage is often assessed by comparing the intensity of stimulation, characterized by the charge density and charge per phase of a stimulus pulse, with a damage threshold identified through histological evidence from in vivo experiments as described by the Shannon equation. While the Shannon equation has proved useful in assessing the likely …

Publication Date:



Journal of neural engineering





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