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Retina. 1999;19(6):546-52.

Successful long-term implantation of electrically inactive epiretinal microelectrode arrays in rabbits.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of Cologne, Köln, Germany.



In the ongoing discussion concerning the realization of an epiretinal prosthesis for electric stimulation of retinal ganglion cells, long-term fixation of such a device is a crucial question. We evaluated surgical techniques for implantation and fixation of electrically inactive microelectrode arrays (MA) into the retinas of rabbits and secondary tissue reactions to the implant.


Vitrectomy and laser coagulation of the prospective fixation area were performed in rabbits. Implantation of MAs was performed 3 weeks later in 10 animals. The MA was fixated using retinal tacks. The follow-up included ophthalmoscopy and electrophysiology. At the end of the follow-up, the enucleated eyes were processed for light microscopy using standard procedures and grinding techniques.


Nine of 10 rabbits were implanted without serious complications. Clinical and electrophysiologic data through 6 months of follow-up did not indicate any adverse effect of the surgery, the implant, or the tack itself. No change in retinal architecture underneath the implant was found by light microscopy. In these cases, the implant was stable at its original fixation area. In three cases, mild cataract formation was observed, and in one case, a total retinal detachment was found.


Tack fixation of electrode arrays for electric stimulation of the inner retinal surface seems to be a useful approach in long-term implantation of an epiretinal prosthesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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