The effect of anisotropy on the potential distribution in biological tissue and its impact on nerve excitation simulations
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We present a finite difference solution of the potential distribution associated with electrical current stimulation in an anisotropic in-homogeneous tissue environment and compare it to the isotropic case. The results demonstrate that there can be significant errors associated with the assumption of isotropic tissue properties in calculating the potential distribution along an axon in nerve excitation simulations. These errors can have a significant impact on predicted nerve fiber recruitment patterns when evaluating the efficacy of specific surface or intramuscular stimulus electrode configurations. The results of this study also suggest when a more comprehensive tissue model should be implemented in an electrode design study. Simulation results indicate that the isotropy assumption is worst under bipolar electrode stimulation as opposed to monopolar stimulation and that the bipolar error increases as the distance between electrodes decreases. In light of these results, it is concluded that in order to avoid large errors in the calculated potential distribution along an axon, the isotropy assumption should only be used when the transverse depth from the electrode to the nerve is relatively small.
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