Customizable cap implants for neurophysiological experimentation
Journal of Neuroscience Methods
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© 2018 Background: Several primate neurophysiology laboratories have adopted acrylic-free, custom-fit cranial implants. These implants are often comprised of titanium or plastic polymers, such as polyether ether ketone (PEEK). Titanium is favored for its mechanical strength and osseointegrative properties whereas PEEK is notable for its lightweight, machinability, and MRI compatibility. Recent titanium/PEEK implants have proven to be effective in minimizing infection and implant failure, thereby prolonging experiments and optimizing the scientific contribution of a single primate. New method: We created novel, customizable PEEK ‘cap’ implants that contour to the primate's skull. The implants were created using MRI and/or CT data, SolidWorks software and CNC-machining. Results: Three rhesus macaques were implanted with a PEEK cap implant. Head fixation and chronic recordings were successfully performed. Improvements in design and surgical technique solved issues of granulation tissue formation and headpost screw breakage. Comparison with existing methods: Primate cranial implants have traditionally been fastened to the skull using acrylic and anchor screws. This technique is prone to skin recession, infection, and implant failure. More recent methods have used imaging data to create custom-fit titanium/PEEK implants with radially extending feet or vertical columns. Compared to our design, these implants are more surgically invasive over time, have less force distribution, and/or do not optimize the utilizable surface area of the skull. Conclusions: Our PEEK cap implants served as an effective and affordable means to perform electrophysiological experimentation while reducing surgical invasiveness, providing increased strength, and optimizing useful surface area.