Feasibility study of greater occipital nerve blocks by focused ultrasound - An animal study

Jiun Yi Chiou, Tamer Abd-Elrehim, Chou Ching Lin, Gin Shin Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. Greater occipital nerve (GON) block may provide substantial relief for headache in the occipital location. This study tested the feasibility of focused ultrasound (FUS) to induce the conduction block of GONs in rats. Approach. For in vitro experiments, the nerve was dissected and cut from C2 to the site near the ear of the rats and preserved in Ringer's solution. Pulsed FUS was used for the block, and sensory action potentials were recorded in the GON. For in vivo experiments, the GONs of the rats were surgically exposed for precise ultrasonic treatment. All data are expressed as the mean ± the standard deviation. Main results. A single ultrasonic treatment temporarily suppressed the amplitude of action potentials of the in vitro nerves to 42 ± 14% of the baseline values, and the time to recovery was 55 min. The in vivo results showed that FUS acutely inhibited the amplitude of action potentials to 41 ± 8% of the baseline value in rat GONs, and the time to recovery was 67 min. Histological examination revealed no appreciable changes in the nerve morphology caused by FUS. Therefore, FUS reversibly blocked the conduction of the rat GON when the sonication parameters were appropriate. Significance. Noninvasive FUS may be a novel treatment paradigm for occipital headache by blocking the occipital nerve, and the procedure is repeatable if indicated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number056030
JournalJournal of Neural Engineering
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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