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1.  Use of the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis to Improve Visual Guidance of Fine Hand Movements 
Purpose.
We studied the capabilities of the Argus II retinal prosthesis for guiding fine hand movement, and demonstrated and quantified guidance improvement when using the device over when not using the device for progressively less predictable trajectories.
Methods.
A total of 21 patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), remaining vision no more than bare light perception, and an implanted Argus II epiretinal prostheses used a touchscreen to trace white paths on black backgrounds. Sets of paths were divided into three categories: right-angle/single-turn, mixed-angle/single-turn, and mixed-angle/two-turn. Subjects trained on paths by using prosthetic vision and auditory feedback, and then were tested without auditory feedback, with and without prosthetic vision. Custom software recorded position and timing information for any contact that subjects made with the screen. The area between the correct path and the trace, and the elapsed time to trace a path were used to evaluate subject performance.
Results.
For right-angle/single-turn sets, average tracing error was reduced by 63% and tracing time increased by 156% when using the prosthesis, relative to residual vision. With mixed-angle/single-turn sets, error was reduced by 53% and time to complete tracing increased by 184%. Prosthesis use decreased error by 38% and increased tracing time by 252% for paths that incorporated two turns.
Conclusions.
Use of an epiretinal visual prosthesis can allow RP patients with no more than bare light perception to guide fine hand movement visually. Further, prosthetic input tends to make subjects slower when performing tracing tasks, presumably reflecting greater effort. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00407602.)
A total of 21 blind retinitis pigmentosa patients used retinal prostheses to visually guide their hands to trace high-contrast paths of varying complexities. Prosthesis use decreased performance error by an average of 60% and increased time to complete the task by an average of 211%. Use of an epiretinal visual prosthesis can allow RP patients with no more than bare light perception to visually guide fine hand movement. Further, prosthetic input tends to make subjects slower when performing tracing tasks, presumably reflecting greater effort.
doi:10.1167/iovs.12-9536
PMCID: PMC3416020  PMID: 22661464
2.  The Detection of Motion by Blind Subjects With the Epiretinal 60-Electrode (Argus II) Retinal Prosthesis 
JAMA ophthalmology  2013;131(2):183-189.
Objective
To investigate the ability of 28 blind subjects implanted with a 60-electrode Argus II (Second Sight Medical Products Inc) retinal prosthesis system to detect the direction of a moving object.
Methods
Blind subjects (bare light perception or worse in both eyes) with retinitis pigmentosa were implanted with the Argus II prosthesis as part of a phase 1/2 feasibility study at multiple clinical sites worldwide. The experiment measured their ability to detect the direction of motion of a high-contrast moving bar on a flatscreen monitor in 3 conditions: with the prosthesis system on and a 1-to-1 mapping of spatial information, with the system off, and with the system on but with randomly scrambled spatial information.
Results
Fifteen subjects (54%) were able to perform the task significantly better with their prosthesis system than they were with their residual vision, 2 subjects had significantly better performance with their residual vision, and no difference was found for 11 subjects. Of the 15 better-performing subjects, 11 were available for follow-up testing, and 10 of them had significantly better performance with normal rather than with scrambled spatial information.
Conclusions
This work demonstrates that blind subjects implanted with the Argus II retinal prosthesis were able to perform a motion detection task they could not do with their native vision, confirming that electrical stimulation of the retina provides spatial information from synchronized activation of multiple electrodes.
doi:10.1001/2013.jamaophthalmol.221
PMCID: PMC3924899  PMID: 23544203
3.  Preliminary 6 Month Results from the Argus™ II Epiretinal Prosthesis Feasibility Study 
Conference Proceedings  2009;2009:4566-4568.
The Argus™ II 60 channel epiretinal prosthesis has been developed in order to provide partial restoration of vision to subjects blinded from outer retinal degenerative disease. To date the device has been implanted in 21 subjects as part of a feasibility study. In 6 month post-implantation door finding and line tracking orientation and mobility testing, subjects have shown improvements of 86% and 73%, respectively, for system on vs. system off. In high-contrast Square Localization tests using a touch screen monitor 87% of tested subjects performed significantly better with the system on compared with off. These preliminary results show that the Argus II system provides some functional vision to blind subjects.
doi:10.1109/IEMBS.2009.5332695
PMCID: PMC3337704  PMID: 19963839
4.  The Argus II epiretinal prosthesis system allows letter and word reading and long-term function in patients with profound vision loss 
Background
Retinal prosthesis systems (RPS) are a novel treatment for profound vision loss in outer retinal dystrophies. Ideal prostheses would offer stable, long-term retinal stimulation and reproducible spatial resolution in a portable form appropriate for daily life.
Methods
We report a prospective, internally controlled, multicentre trial of the Argus II system. Twenty-eight subjects with light perception vision received a retinal implant. Controlled, closed-group, forced-choice letter identification, and, open-choice two-, three- and four-letter word identification tests were carried out.
Results
The mean±SD percentage correct letter identification for 21 subjects tested were: letters L, T, E, J, F, H, I, U, 72.3±24.6% system on and 17.7±12.9% system off; letters A, Z, Q, V, N, W, O, C, D, M, 55.0±27.4% system on and 11.8%±10.7% system off, and letters K, R, G, X, B, Y, S, P, 51.7±28.9% system on and 15.3±7.4% system off. (p<0.001 for all groups). A subgroup of six subjects was able to consistently read letters of reduced size, the smallest measuring 0.9 cm (1.7°) at 30 cm, and four subjects correctly identify unrehearsed two-, three- and four-letter words. Average implant duration was 19.9 months.
Conclusions
Multiple blind subjects fitted with the Argus II system consistently identified letters and words using the device, indicating reproducible spatial resolution. This, in combination with stable, long-term function, represents significant progress in the evolution of artificial sight.
doi:10.1136/bjophthalmol-2012-301525
PMCID: PMC3632967  PMID: 23426738
5.  Detection, eye–hand coordination and virtual mobility performance in simulated vision for a cortical visual prosthesis device 
Journal of neural engineering  2009;6(3):035008.
In order to assess visual performance using a future cortical prosthesis device, the ability of normally sighted and low vision subjects to adapt to a dotted ‘phosphene’ image was studied. Similar studies have been conduced in the past and adaptation to phosphene maps has been shown but the phosphene maps used have been square or hexagonal in pattern. The phosphene map implemented for this testing is what is expected from a cortical implantation of the arrays of intracortical electrodes, generating multiple phosphenes. The dotted image created depends upon the surgical location of electrodes decided for implantation and the expected cortical response. The subjects under tests were required to perform tasks requiring visual inspection, eye–hand coordination and way finding. The subjects did not have any tactile feedback and the visual information provided was live dotted images captured by a camera on a head-mounted low vision enhancing system and processed through a filter generating images similar to the images we expect the blind persons to perceive. The images were locked to the subject’s gaze by means of video-based pupil tracking. In the detection and visual inspection task, the subject scanned a modified checkerboard and counted the number of square white fields on a square checkerboard, in the eye–hand coordination task, the subject placed black checkers on the white fields of the checkerboard, and in the way-finding task, the subjects maneuvered themselves through a virtual maze using a game controller. The accuracy and the time to complete the task were used as the measured outcome. As per the surgical studies by this research group, it might be possible to implant up to 650 electrodes; hence, 650 dots were used to create images and performance studied under 0% dropout (650 dots), 25% dropout (488 dots) and 50% dropout (325 dots) conditions. It was observed that all the subjects under test were able to learn the given tasks and showed improvement in performance with practice even with a dropout condition of 50% (325 dots). Hence, if a cortical prosthesis is implanted in human subjects, they might be able to perform similar tasks and with practice should be able to adapt to dotted images even with a low resolution of 325 dots of phosphene.
doi:10.1088/1741-2560/6/3/035008
PMCID: PMC3902177  PMID: 19458397
6.  Factors Affecting Perceptual Threshold in Argus II Retinal Prosthesis Subjects 
Purpose
The Argus II epiretinal prosthesis has been developed to provide partial restoration of vision to subjects blinded from outer retinal degenerative disease. Participants were surgically implanted with the system in the United States and Europe in a single arm, prospective, multicenter clinical trial. The purpose of this investigation was to determine which factors affect electrical thresholds in order to inform surgical placement of the device.
Methods
Electrode–retina and electrode–fovea distances were determined using SD-OCT and fundus photography, respectively. Perceptual threshold to electrical stimulation of electrodes was measured using custom developed software, in which current amplitude was varied until the threshold was found. Full field stimulus light threshold was measured using the Espion D-FST test. Relationships between electrical threshold and these three explanatory variables (electrode–retina distance, electrode–fovea distance, and monocular light threshold) were quantified using regression.
Results
Regression analysis showed a significant correlation between electrical threshold and electrode–retina distance (R2 = 0.50, P = 0.0002; n = 703 electrodes). 90.3% of electrodes in contact with the macula (n = 207) elicited percepts at charge densities less than 1 mC/cm2/phase. These threshold data also correlated well with ganglion cell density profile (P = 0.03). A weaker, but still significant, inverse correlation was found between light threshold and electrical threshold (R2 < 0.52, P = 0.01). Multivariate modeling indicated that electrode–retina distance and light threshold are highly predictive of electrode threshold (R2 = 0.87; P < 0.0005).
Conclusions
Taken together, these results suggest that while light threshold should be used to inform patient selection, macular contact of the array is paramount.
Translational Relevance
Reported Argus II clinical study results are in good agreement with prior in vitro and in vivo studies, and support the development of higher-density systems that employ smaller diameter electrodes. (clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT00407602)
doi:10.1167/tvst.2.4.1
PMCID: PMC3763895  PMID: 24049718
retinal prosthesis; retinal degeneration; retinitis pigmentosa
7.  Intrastromal Corneal Ring Implants for Corneal Thinning Disorders 
Executive Summary
Objective
The purpose of this project was to determine the role of corneal implants in the management of corneal thinning disease conditions. An evidence-based review was conducted to determine the safety, effectiveness and durability of corneal implants for the management of corneal thinning disorders. The evolving directions of research in this area were also reviewed.
Subject of the Evidence-Based Analysis
The primary treatment objectives for corneal implants are to normalize corneal surface topography, improve contact lens tolerability, and restore visual acuity in order to delay or defer the need for corneal transplant. Implant placement is a minimally invasive procedure that is purported to be safe and effective. The procedure is also claimed to be adjustable, reversible, and both eyes can be treated at the same time. Further, implants do not limit the performance of subsequent surgical approaches or interfere with corneal transplant. The evidence for these claims is the focus of this review.
The specific research questions for the evidence review were as follows:
Safety
Corneal Surface Topographic Effects:
Effects on corneal surface remodelling
Impact of these changes on subsequent interventions, particularly corneal transplantation (penetrating keratoplasty [PKP])
Visual Acuity
Refractive Outcomes
Visual Quality (Symptoms): such as contrast vision or decreased visual symptoms (halos, fluctuating vision)
Contact lens tolerance
Functional visual rehabilitation and quality of life
Patient satisfaction:
Disease Process:
Impact on corneal thinning process
Effect on delaying or deferring the need for corneal transplantation
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Corneal ectasia (thinning) comprises a range of disorders involving either primary disease conditions such as keratoconus and pellucid marginal corneal degeneration or secondary iatrogenic conditions such as corneal thinning occurring after LASIK refractive surgery. The condition occurs when the normally round dome-shaped cornea progressively thins causing a cone-like bulge or forward protrusion in response to the normal pressure of the eye. Thinning occurs primarily in the stoma layers and is believed to be a breakdown in the collagen network. This bulging can lead to an irregular shape or astigmatism of the cornea and, because the anterior part of the cornea is largely responsible for the focusing of light on the retina, results in loss of visual acuity. This can make even simple daily tasks, such as driving, watching television or reading, difficult to perform.
Keratoconus (KC) is the most common form of corneal thinning disorder and is a noninflammatory chronic disease process. Although the specific causes of the biomechanical alterations that occur in KC are unknown, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that genetic factors may play an important role. KC is a rare condition (<0.05% of the population) and is unique among chronic eye diseases as it has an early age of onset (median age of 25 years). Disease management for this condition follows a step-wise approach depending on disease severity. Contact lenses are the primary treatment of choice when there is irregular astigmatism associated with the disease. When patients can no longer tolerate contact lenses or when lenses no longer provide adequate vision, patients are referred for corneal transplant.
Keratoconus is one of the leading indications for corneal transplants and has been so for the last three decades. Yet, despite high graft survival rates of up to 20 years, there are reasons to defer receiving transplants for as long as possible. Patients with keratoconus are generally young and life-long term graft survival would be an important consideration. The surgery itself involves lengthy time off work and there are potential complications from long term steroid use following surgery, as well as the risk of developing secondary cataracts, glaucoma etc. After transplant, recurrent KC is possible with need for subsequent intervention. Residual refractive errors and astigmatism can remain challenging after transplantation and high refractive surgery rates and re-graft rates in KC patients have been reported. Visual rehabilitation or recovery of visual acuity after transplant may be slow and/or unsatisfactory to patients.
Description of Technology/Therapy
INTACS® (Addition Technology Inc. Sunnyvale, CA, formerly KeraVision, Inc.) are the only currently licensed corneal implants in Canada. The implants are micro-thin poly methyl methacrylate crescent shaped ring segments with a circumference arc length of 150 degrees, an external diameter of 8.10 mm, an inner diameter of 6.77 mm, and a range of different thicknesses. Implants act as passive spacers and, when placed in the cornea, cause local separation of the corneal lamellae resulting in a shortening of the arc length of the anterior corneal curvature and flattening the central cornea. Increasing segment thickness results in greater lamellar separation with increased flattening of the cornea correcting for myopia by decreasing the optical power of the eye. Corneal implants also improve corneal astigmatism but the mechanism of action for this is less well understood.
Treatment with corneal implants is considered for patients who are contact lens intolerant, having adequate corneal thickness particularly around the area of the implant incision site and without central corneal scarring. Those with central corneal scarring would not benefit from implants and those without an adequate corneal thickness, particularly in the region that the implants are being inserted, would be at increased risk for corneal perforation. Patients desiring to have visual rehabilitation that does not include glasses or contact lenses would not be candidates for corneal ring implants.
Placement of the implants is an outpatient procedure with topical anesthesia generally performed by either corneal specialists or refractive surgeons. It involves creating tunnels in the corneal stroma to secure the implants either by a diamond knife or laser calibrated to an approximate depth of 70% of the cornea. Variable approaches have been employed by surgeons in selecting ring segment size, number and position. Generally, two segments of equal thickness are placed superiorly and inferiorly to manage symmetrical patterns of corneal thinning whereas one segment may be placed to manage asymmetric thinning patterns.
Following implantation, the major safety concerns are for potential adverse events including corneal perforation, infection, corneal infiltrates, corneal neovascularization, ring migration and extrusion and corneal thinning. Technical results can be unsatisfactory for several reasons. Treatment may result in an over or under-correction of refraction and may induce astigmatism or asymmetry of the cornea.
Progression of the corneal cone with corneal opacities is also invariably an indication for progression to corneal transplant. Other reasons for treatment failure or patient dissatisfaction include foreign body sensation, unsatisfactory visual quality with symptoms such as double vision, fluctuating vision, poor night vision or visual side effects related to ring edge or induced or unresolved astigmatism.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
The literature search strategy employed keywords and subject headings to capture the concepts of 1) intrastromal corneal rings and 2) corneal diseases, with a focus on keratoconus, astigmatism, and corneal ectasia. The initial search was run on April 17, 2008, and a final search was run on March 6, 2009 in the following databases: Ovid MEDLINE (1996 to February Week 4 2009), OVID MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE (1980 to 2009 Week 10), OVID Cochrane Library, and the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination/International Agency for Health Technology Assessment. Parallel search strategies were developed for the remaining databases. Search results were limited to human and English-language published between January 2000 and April 17, 2008. The resulting citations were downloaded into Reference Manager, v.11 (ISI Researchsoft, Thomson Scientific, U.S.A), and duplicates were removed. The Web sites of several other health technology agencies were also reviewed including the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH), ECRI, and the United Kingdom National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). The bibliographies of relevant articles were scanned.
Inclusion Criteria
English language reports and human studies
Any corneal thinning disorder
Reports with corneal implants used alone or in conjunction with other interventions
Original reports with defined study methodology
Reports including standardized measurements on outcome events such as technical success, safety, effectiveness, durability, vision quality of life or patient satisfaction
Case reports or case series for complications and adverse events
Exclusion Criteria
Non-systematic reviews, letters, comments and editorials
Reports not involving outcome events such as safety, effectiveness, durability, vision quality or patient satisfaction following an intervention with corneal implants
Reports not involving corneal thinning disorders and an intervention with corneal implants
Summary of Findings
In the MAS evidence review on intrastromal corneal ring implants, 66 reports were identified on the use of implants for management of corneal thinning disorders. Reports varied according to their primary clinical indication, type of corneal implant, and whether or not secondary procedures were used in conjunction with the implants. Implants were reported to manage post LASIK thinning and/or uncorrected refractive error and were also reported as an adjunctive intervention both during and after corneal transplant to manage recurrent thinning and/or uncorrected refractive error.
Ten pre-post cohort longitudinal follow-up studies were identified examining the safety and effectiveness of INTAC corneal implants in patients with keratoconus. Five additional cohort studies were identified using the Ferrara implant for keratoconus management but because this corneal implant is not licensed in Canada these studies were not reviewed.
The cohorts implanted with INTACS involved 608 keratoconus patients (754 eyes) followed for 1, 2 or 3 years. Three of the reports involved ≥ 2 years of follow-up with the longest having 5-year follow-up data for a small number of patients. Four of the INTAC cohort studies involved 50 or more patients; the largest involved 255 patients. Inclusion criteria for the studies were consistent and included patients who were contact lens intolerant, had adequate corneal thickness, particularly around the area of the implant incision site, and without central corneal scarring. Disease severity, thinning pattern, and corneal cone protrusions all varied and generally required different treatment approaches involving defined segment sizes and locations.
A wide range of outcome measures were reported in the cohort studies. High levels of technical success or ability to place INTAC segments were reported. Technically related complications were often delayed and generally reported as segment migration attributable to early experience. Overall, complications were infrequently reported and largely involved minor reversible events without clinical sequelae.
The outcomes reported across studies involved statistically significant and clinically relevant improvements in corneal topography, refraction and visual acuity, for both uncorrected and best-corrected visual acuity. Patients’ vision was usually restored to within normal functioning levels and for those not achieving satisfactory correction, insertion of intraocular lenses was reported in case studies to result in additional gains in visual acuity. Vision loss (infrequently reported) was usually reversed by implant exchange or removal. The primary effects of INTACS on corneal surface remodelling were consistent with secondary improvements in refractive error and visual acuity. The improvements in visual acuity and refractive error noted at 6 months were maintained at 1 and 2-year follow-up
Improvements in visual acuity and refractive error following insertion of INTACS, however, were not noted for all patients. Although improvements were not found to vary across age groups there were differences across stages of disease. Several reports suggested that improvements in visual acuity and refractive outcomes may not be as large or predictable in more advanced stages of KC. Some studies have suggested that the effects of INTACs were much greater in flattening the corneal surface than in correcting astigmatism. However, these studies involved small numbers of high risk patients in advanced stages of KC and conclusions made from this group are limited.
INTACS were used for other indications other than primary KC. The results of implant insertion on corneal topography, refraction, and visual acuity in post-LASIK thinning cases were similar to those reported for KC. The evidence for this indication, however, only involved case reports and small case series. INTACS were also successfully used to treat recurrent KC after corneal transplant but this was based on only a single case report. Corneal implants were compared to corneal transplantation but these studies were not randomized and based on small numbers of selected patients.
The foremost limitation of the evidence base is the basic study design in the reports that involved longitudinal follow-up only for the treated group; there were no randomized trials. Follow-up in the trials (although at prescribed intervals) often had incomplete accounts of losses at follow-up and estimates of change were often not reported or based on group differences. Second, although standardized outcome measures were reported, contact lens tolerance (a key treatment objective) was infrequently specified. A third general limitation was the lack of reporting of patients’ satisfaction with their vision quality or functional vision. Outcome measures for vision quality and impact on patient quality of life were available but rarely reported and have been noted to be a limitation in ophthalmological literature in general. Fourth, the longitudinal cohort studies have not followed patients long enough to evaluate the impact of implants on the underlying disease process (follow-up beyond 3 years is limited). Additionally, only a few of these studies directly examined corneal thinning in follow-up. The overall quality of evidence determined using the GRADE hierarchy of evidence was moderate.
There is some evidence in these studies to support the claim that corneal implants do not interfere with, or increase the difficultly of, subsequent corneal transplant, at least for those performed shortly after INTAC placement. Although it’s uncertain for how long implants can delay the need for a corneal transplant, given that patients with KC are often young (in their twenties and thirties), delaying transplant for any number of years may still be a valuable consideration.
Conclusion
The clinical indications for corneal implants have evolved from management of myopia in normal eyes to the management of corneal thinning disorders such as KC and thinning occurring after refractive surgery. Despite the limited evidence base for corneal implants, which consists solely of longitudinal follow-up studies, they appear to be a valuable clinical tool for improving vision in patients with corneal thinning. For patients unable to achieve functional vision, corneal implants achieved statistically significant and clinically relevant improvements in corneal topography, refraction, and visual acuity, providing a useful alternative to corneal transplant. Implants may also have a rescue function, treating corneal thinning occurring after refractive surgery in normal eyes, or managing refractive errors following corneal transplant. The treatment offers several advantages in that it’s an outpatient based procedure, is associated with minimal risk, and has high technical success rates. Both eyes can be treated at once and the treatment is adjustable and reversible. The implants can be removed or exchanged to improve vision without limiting subsequent interventions, particularly corneal transplant.
Better reporting on vision quality, functional vision and patient satisfaction, however, would improve evaluation of the impact of these devices. Information on the durability of the implants’ treatment effects and their affects on underlying disease processes is limited. This information is becoming more important as alternative treatment strategies, such as collagen cross-linking aimed at strengthening the underlying corneal tissue, are emerging and which might prove to be more effective or increase the effectiveness of the implants, particularly in advances stages of corneal thinning.
Ontario Health System Considerations
At present there are approximately 70 ophthalmologists in Canada who’ve had training with corneal implants; 30 of these practice in Ontario. Industry currently sponsors the training, proctoring and support for the procedure. The cost of the implant device ranges from $950 to $1200 (CAD) and costs for instrumentation range from $20,000 to $30,000 (CAD) (a one time capital expenditure). There is no physician services fee code for corneal implants in Ontario but assuming that they are no higher than those for a corneal transplant, the estimated surgical costs would be $914.32(CAD) An estimated average cost per patient, based on device costs and surgical fees, for treatment is $1,964 (CAD) (range $1,814 to $2,114) per eye. There have also been no out of province treatment requests. In Ontario the treatment is currently being offered in private clinics and an increasing number of ophthalmologists are being certified in the technique by the manufacturer.
KC is a rare disease and not all of these patients would be eligible candidates for treatment with corneal implants. Based on published population rates of KC occurrence, it can be expected that there is a prevalent population of approximately 6,545 patients and an incident population of 240 newly diagnosed cases per year. Given this small number of potential cases, the use of corneal implants would not be expected to have much impact on the Ontario healthcare system. The potential impact on the provincial budget for managing the incident population, assuming the most conservative scenario (i.e., all are eligible and all receive bilateral implants) ranges from $923 thousand to $1.1 million (CAD). This estimate would vary based on a variety of criteria including eligibility, unilateral or bilateral interventions, re-interventions, capacity and uptake
Keywords
Keratoconus, corneal implants, corneal topography, corneal transplant, visual acuity, refractive error
PMCID: PMC3385416  PMID: 23074513
8.  Reading Visual Braille with a Retinal Prosthesis 
Retinal prostheses, which restore partial vision to patients blinded by outer retinal degeneration, are currently in clinical trial. The Argus II retinal prosthesis system was recently awarded CE approval for commercial use in Europe. While retinal prosthesis users have achieved remarkable visual improvement to the point of reading letters and short sentences, the reading process is still fairly cumbersome. This study investigates the possibility of using an epiretinal prosthesis to stimulate visual braille as a sensory substitution for reading written letters and words. The Argus II retinal prosthesis system, used in this study, includes a 10 × 6 electrode array implanted epiretinally, a tiny video camera mounted on a pair of glasses, and a wearable computer that processes the video and determines the stimulation current of each electrode in real time. In the braille reading system, individual letters are created by a subset of dots from a 3 by 2 array of six dots. For the visual braille experiment, a grid of six electrodes was chosen out of the 10 × 6 Argus II array. Groups of these electrodes were then directly stimulated (bypassing the camera) to create visual percepts of individual braille letters. Experiments were performed in a single subject. Single letters were stimulated in an alternative forced choice (AFC) paradigm, and short 2–4-letter words were stimulated (one letter at a time) in an open-choice reading paradigm. The subject correctly identified 89% of single letters, 80% of 2-letter, 60% of 3-letter, and 70% of 4-letter words. This work suggests that text can successfully be stimulated and read as visual braille in retinal prosthesis patients.
doi:10.3389/fnins.2012.00168
PMCID: PMC3504310  PMID: 23189036
retina; epiretinal prosthesis; sensory substitution; retinitis pigmentosa; blindness; perception; degeneration; sight restoration
9.  Comparison of range-of-motion and variability in upper body movements between transradial prosthesis users and able-bodied controls when executing goal-oriented tasks 
Background
Current upper limb prostheses do not replace the active degrees-of-freedom distal to the elbow inherent to intact physiology. Limited evidence suggests that transradial prosthesis users demonstrate shoulder and trunk movements to compensate for these missing volitional degrees-of-freedom. The purpose of this study was to enhance understanding of the effects of prosthesis use on motor performance by comparing the movement quality of upper body kinematics between transradial prosthesis users and able-bodied controls when executing goal-oriented tasks that reflect activities of daily living.
Methods
Upper body kinematics were collected on six able-bodied controls and seven myoelectric transradial prosthesis users during execution of goal-oriented tasks. Range-of-motion, absolute kinematic variability (standard deviation), and kinematic repeatability (adjusted coefficient-of-multiple-determination) were quantified for trunk motion in three planes, shoulder flexion/extension, shoulder ab/adduction, and elbow flexion/extension across five trials per task. Linear mixed models analysis assessed between-group differences and correlation analysis evaluated association between prosthesis experience and kinematic repeatability.
Results
Across tasks, prosthesis users demonstrated increased trunk motion in all three planes and shoulder abduction compared to controls (p ≤ 0.004). Absolute kinematic variability was greater for prosthesis users for all degrees-of-freedom irrespective of task, but was significant only for degrees-of-freedom that demonstrated increased range-of-motion (p ≤ 0.003). For degrees-of-freedom that did not display increased absolute variability for prosthesis users, able-bodied kinematics were characterized by significantly greater repeatability (p ≤ 0.015). Prosthesis experience had a strong positive relationship with average kinematic repeatability (r = 0.790, p = 0.034).
Conclusions
The use of shoulder and trunk movements by prosthesis users as compensatory motions to execute goal-oriented tasks demonstrates the flexibility and adaptability of the motor system. Increased variability in movement suggests that prosthesis users do not converge on a defined motor strategy to the same degree as able-bodied individuals. Kinematic repeatability may increase with prosthesis experience, or encourage continued device use, and future work is warranted to explore these relationships. As compensatory dynamics may be necessary to improve functionality of transradial prostheses, users may benefit from dedicated training that encourages optimization of these dynamics to facilitate execution of daily living activity, and fosters adaptable but reliable motor strategies.
doi:10.1186/1743-0003-11-132
PMCID: PMC4164738  PMID: 25192744
Upper limb; Transradial amputation; Kinematics; Trunk; Prosthesis
10.  Interim Results from the International Trial of Second Sight’s Visual Prosthesis 
Ophthalmology  2012;119(4):779-788.
Purpose
This study evaluates the Argus™ II Retinal Prosthesis System in blind subjects with severe outer retinal degeneration.
Design
The study design is a single arm, prospective, multicenter clinical trial.
Participants
Thirty subjects were enrolled in the United States and Europe between 6 June 2007 and 11 August 2009. All subjects were followed for a minimum of six months and up to 2.7 years.
Methods
The electronic stimulator and antenna of the implant was sutured onto the sclera using an encircling silicone band. Next, a pars plana vitrectomy was performed and the electrode array and cable were introduced into the eye via a pars plana sclerotomy. The microelectrode array was then tacked to the epiretinal surface.
Main Outcome Measures
The primary safety endpoint for the trial was the number, severity, and relation of adverse events. Principal performance endpoints were assessments of visual function as well as performance on orientation and mobility tasks.
Results
Subjects performed statistically better with system ON vs. OFF in the following tasks: object localization (96% of subjects); motion discrimination (57%); and discrimination of oriented gratings (23%). The best recorded visual acuity to date is 20/1260. Subjects’ mean performance on Orientation and Mobility tasks was significantly better when the System was ON vs. OFF.
Seventy percent of the patients did not have any serious adverse events (SAEs). The most common SAE reported was either conjunctival erosion or dehiscence over the extraocular implant and was successfully treated in all subjects except in one which required explantation of the device without further complications.
Conclusions
The long-term safety results of Second Sight’s retinal prosthesis system are acceptable and the majority of subjects with profound visual loss perform better on visual tasks with system than without.
doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2011.09.028
PMCID: PMC3319859  PMID: 22244176
11.  Impaired navigation skills in patients with psychological distress and chronic peripheral vestibular hypofunction without vertigo 
Summary
Few studies have focused on the role of the vestibular system for navigation and spatial memory functions in humans, with controversial results. Since most experimental settings were based on magnetic resonance imaging volumetry of the hippocampus and virtual navigation task on a PC, aim of this study was to investigate whether a well-compensated unilateral peripheral vestibular hypofunction in humans could interfere with navigation tasks while walking on memorized routes. A series of 50 unilateral labyrinthine-defective patients, without vertigo at the time of examination, and 50 controls were invited to visually memorize 3 different routes (a triangle, a circle and a square) on a grey carpet and then to walk along them clockwise and counter-clockwise (mental map navigation) with eyes closed. The same test was then repeated with eyes open (actual navigation) and a second time with eyes closed (mental navigation). Execution time was recorded in each test. In the same session, working spatial memory was assessed by the Corsi block test and all subjects completed the Symptom Check List (SCL-90) to assess depression and anxiety levels. Results showed that labyrinthine-defective patients presented higher levels of anxiety and depression and performed the Corsi block test with more difficulties than controls. All differences reached statistically significant level (p < 0.05). Moreover, patients needed more time than controls in the first and third navigation tasks (eyes closed). No difference was observed between clockwise and counter-clockwise walking, on all routes, either in patients or controls. Patients showed a greater improvement in the third navigation task, with respect to the first test, than controls, with no side-effect in relation to labyrinthine hypofunction. These data demonstrate that walking along memorized routes without vision is impaired by peripheral vestibular damage even if vestibular compensation prevents patients from suffering from vertigo and balance disturbances. This impairment could be due to a permanent deficit of visuo-spatial short-term memory as suggested by the Corsi block test results even if a residual sensori-motor impairment and/or an interference of psychological distress could not be excluded.
PMCID: PMC2640064  PMID: 18533551
Vestibular disorder; Spatial memory; Visuo-spatial short-term memory; Memorized routes; Navigation; Anxiety
12.  Static and dynamic posture control in postlingual cochlear implanted patients: effects of dual-tasking, visual and auditory inputs suppression 
Posture control is based on central integration of multisensory inputs, and on internal representation of body orientation in space. This multisensory feedback regulates posture control and continuously updates the internal model of body's position which in turn forwards motor commands adapted to the environmental context and constraints. The peripheral localization of the vestibular system, close to the cochlea, makes vestibular damage possible following cochlear implant (CI) surgery. Impaired vestibular function in CI patients, if any, may have a strong impact on posture stability. The simple postural task of quiet standing is generally paired with cognitive activity in most day life conditions, leading therefore to competition for attentional resources in dual-tasking, and increased risk of fall particularly in patients with impaired vestibular function. This study was aimed at evaluating the effects of postlingual cochlear implantation on posture control in adult deaf patients. Possible impairment of vestibular function was assessed by comparing the postural performance of patients to that of age-matched healthy subjects during a simple postural task performed in static (stable platform) and dynamic (platform in translation) conditions, and during dual-tasking with a visual or auditory memory task. Postural tests were done in eyes open (EO) and eyes closed (EC) conditions, with the CI activated (ON) or not (OFF). Results showed that the postural performance of the CI patients strongly differed from the controls, mainly in the EC condition. The CI patients showed significantly reduced limits of stability and increased postural instability in static conditions. In dynamic conditions, they spent considerably more energy to maintain equilibrium, and their head was stabilized neither in space nor on trunk: they behaved dynamically without vision like an inverted pendulum while the controls showed a whole body rigidification strategy. Hearing (prosthesis on) as well as dual-tasking did not really improve the dynamic postural performance of the CI patients. We conclude that CI patients become strongly visual dependent mainly in challenging postural conditions, a result they have to be awarded of particularly when getting older.
doi:10.3389/fnint.2013.00111
PMCID: PMC3893730  PMID: 24474907
posture control; cochlear implanted patients; dual-tasking; visual input; auditory input
13.  Adaptive Changes in Early and Late Blind: A fMRI Study of Braille Reading 
Journal of neurophysiology  2002;87(1):589-607.
Braille reading depends on remarkable adaptations that connect the somatosensory system to language. We hypothesized that the pattern of cortical activations in blind individuals reading Braille would reflect these adaptations. Activations in visual (occipital-temporal), frontal-language, and somatosensory cortex in blind individuals reading Braille were examined for evidence of differences relative to previously reported studies of sighted subjects reading print or receiving tactile stimulation. Nine congenitally blind and seven late-onset blind subjects were studied with fMRI as they covertly performed verb generation in response to reading Braille embossed nouns. The control task was reading the nonlexical Braille string “######”. This study emphasized image analysis in individual subjects rather than pooled data. Group differences were examined by comparing magnitudes and spatial extent of activated regions first determined to be significant using the general linear model. The major adaptive change was robust activation of visual cortex despite the complete absence of vision in all subjects. This included foci in peri-calcarine, lingual, cuneus and fusiform cortex, and in the lateral and superior occipital gyri encompassing primary (V1), secondary (V2), and higher tier (VP, V4v, LO and possibly V3A) visual areas previously identified in sighted subjects. Subjects who never had vision differed from late blind subjects in showing even greater activity in occipital-temporal cortex, provisionally corresponding to V5/MT and V8. In addition, the early blind had stronger activation of occipital cortex located contralateral to the hand used for reading Braille. Responses in frontal and parietal cortex were nearly identical in both subject groups. There was no evidence of modifications in frontal cortex language areas (inferior frontal gyrus and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex). Surprisingly, there was also no evidence of an adaptive expansion of the somatosensory or primary motor cortex dedicated to the Braille reading finger(s). Lack of evidence for an expected enlargement of the somatosensory representation may have resulted from balanced tactile stimulation and gross motor demands during Braille reading of nouns and the control fields. Extensive engagement of visual cortex without vision is discussed in reference to the special demands of Braille reading. It is argued that these responses may represent critical language processing mechanisms normally present in visual cortex.
PMCID: PMC3684969  PMID: 11784773
14.  Cross-Modal Object Recognition Is Viewpoint-Independent 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(9):e890.
Background
Previous research suggests that visual and haptic object recognition are viewpoint-dependent both within- and cross-modally. However, this conclusion may not be generally valid as it was reached using objects oriented along their extended y-axis, resulting in differential surface processing in vision and touch. In the present study, we removed this differential by presenting objects along the z-axis, thus making all object surfaces more equally available to vision and touch.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Participants studied previously unfamiliar objects, in groups of four, using either vision or touch. Subsequently, they performed a four-alternative forced-choice object identification task with the studied objects presented in both unrotated and rotated (180° about the x-, y-, and z-axes) orientations. Rotation impaired within-modal recognition accuracy in both vision and touch, but not cross-modal recognition accuracy. Within-modally, visual recognition accuracy was reduced by rotation about the x- and y-axes more than the z-axis, whilst haptic recognition was equally affected by rotation about all three axes. Cross-modal (but not within-modal) accuracy correlated with spatial (but not object) imagery scores.
Conclusions/Significance
The viewpoint-independence of cross-modal object identification points to its mediation by a high-level abstract representation. The correlation between spatial imagery scores and cross-modal performance suggest that construction of this high-level representation is linked to the ability to perform spatial transformations. Within-modal viewpoint-dependence appears to have a different basis in vision than in touch, possibly due to surface occlusion being important in vision but not touch.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000890
PMCID: PMC1964535  PMID: 17849019
15.  Spatial and temporal characteristics of V1 microstimulation during chronic implantation of a microelectrode array in a behaving macaque 
Journal of neural engineering  2012;9(6):065003.
Objective
It has been hypothesized that a vision prosthesis capable of evoking useful visual percepts can be based upon electrically stimulating the primary visual cortex (V1) of a blind human subject via penetrating microelectrode arrays. As a continuation of earlier work, we examined several spatial and temporal characteristics of V1 microstimulation.
Approach
An array of 100 penetrating microelectrodes was chronically implanted in V1 of a behaving macaque monkey. Microstimulation thresholds were measured using a two-alternative forced choice detection task. Relative locations of electrically-evoked percepts were measured using a memory saccade-to-target task.
Main results
The principal finding was that two years after implantation we were able to evoke behavioural responses to electric stimulation across the spatial extent of the array using groups of contiguous electrodes. Consistent responses to stimulation were evoked at an average threshold current per electrode of 204 ± 49 µA (mean ± std) for groups of four electrodes and 91 ± 25 µA for groups of nine electrodes. Saccades to electrically-evoked percepts using groups of nine electrodes showed that the animal could discriminate spatially distinct percepts with groups having an average separation of 1.6 ± 0.3 mm (mean ± std) in cortex and 1.0 ± 0.2 degrees in visual space.
Significance
These results demonstrate chronic perceptual functionality and provide evidence for the feasibility of a cortically-based vision prosthesis for the blind using penetrating microelectrodes.
doi:10.1088/1741-2560/9/6/065003
PMCID: PMC3521049  PMID: 23186948
16.  Is DOPA-Responsive Hypokinesia Responsible for Bimanual Coordination Deficits in Parkinson’s Disease? 
Bradykinesia is a well-documented DOPA-responsive clinical feature of Parkinson’s disease (PD). While amplitude deficits (hypokinesia) are a key component of this slowness, it is important to consider how dopamine influences both the amplitude (hypokinesia) and frequency components of bradykinesia when a bimanually coordinated movement is required. Based on the notion that the basal ganglia are associated with sensory deficits, the influence of dopaminergic replacement on sensory feedback conditions during bimanual coordination was also evaluated. Bimanual movements were examined in PD and healthy comparisons in an unconstrained three-dimensional coordination task. PD were tested “off” (overnight withdrawal of dopaminergic treatment) and “on” (peak dose of dopaminergic treatment), while the healthy group was evaluated for practice effects across two sessions. Required cycle frequency (increased within each trial from 0.75 to 2 Hz), type of visual feedback (no vision, normal vision, and augmented vision), and coordination pattern (symmetrical in-phase and non-symmetrical anti-phase) were all manipulated. Overall, coordination (mean accuracy and standard deviation of relative phase) and amplitude deficits during bimanual coordination were confirmed in PD participants. In addition, significant correlations were identified between severity of motor symptoms as well as bradykinesia to greater coordination deficits (accuracy and stability) in PD “off” group. However, even though amplitude deficits (hypokinesia) improved with dopaminergic replacement, it did not improve bimanual coordination performance (accuracy or stability) in PD patients from “off” to “on.” Interestingly, while coordination performance in both groups suffered in the augmented vision condition, the amplitude of the more affected limb of PD was notably influenced. It can be concluded that DOPA-responsive hypokinesia contributes to, but is not directly responsible for bimanual coordination impairments in PD. It is likely that bimanual coordination deficits in PD are caused by the combination of dopaminergic system dysfunction as well as other neural impairments that may be DOPA-resistant or related to non-dopaminergic pathways.
doi:10.3389/fneur.2013.00089
PMCID: PMC3715734  PMID: 23882254
bimanual coordination; motor control disorders; dopamine; bradykinesia; hypokinesia; Parkinson’s disease
17.  Initiation and Stability of Pursuit Eye Movements in Simulated Retinal Prosthesis at Different Implant Locations 
PURPOSE
To assess the possible effects of retinal prosthesisimplant location on the initiation and stability of pursuit eye movements.
METHODS
Six normally sighted subjects visually tracked a horizontally moving target in natural vision and in simulated prosthetic vision. Subjects were instructed to press a key when the target jumped. Prosthetic vision was simulated with a 10 × 10 array of 1° diameter phosphenes. Three implant locations in the retina were simulated: macular, 8° superior, and 8° nasal. Target motion had two speeds: 4°/s and 8°/s. Eye movement latency, horizontal stability, and vertical stability were assessed. Key-press behaviors responding to target jump were analyzed to evaluate functional eye movements.
RESULTS
Compared with natural vision, horizontal eye position with respect to target position was less stable in simulated prosthetic vision at macular, superior, and nasal implant locations, in ascending order of the degree of instability. Vertical eye position with respect to target position in simulated prosthetic vision with the superior implant location was less stable in tracking slow target motion than fast. Eye movement latency in simulated prosthetic vision was longer than in natural vision. Key-press performance was impaired in simulated prosthetic vision.
CONCLUSIONS
Pursuit eye movements in prosthetic vision, compared to natural vision, are significantly slower in initiation and less smooth in motion. They seem, however, still functional, even if the prosthesis is implanted in the peripheral retina. A superior implant locus may help the prosthesis wearer better control horizontal eye movements, which are more frequently used in the activities of daily living.
doi:10.1167/iovs.07-1346
PMCID: PMC2677095  PMID: 18539937
18.  Robotic-Assisted Minimally Invasive Surgery for Gynecologic and Urologic Oncology 
Executive Summary
Objective
An application was received to review the evidence on the ‘The Da Vinci Surgical System’ for the treatment of gynecologic malignancies (e.g. endometrial and cervical cancers). Limitations to the current standard of care include the lack of trained physicians on minimally invasive surgery and limited access to minimally invasive surgery for patients. The potential benefits of ‘The Da Vinci Surgical System’ include improved technical manipulation and physician uptake leading to increased surgeries, and treatment and management of these cancers.
The demand for robotic surgery for the treatment and management of prostate cancer has been increasing due to its alleged benefits of recovery of erectile function and urinary continence, two important factors of men’s health. The potential technical benefits of robotic surgery leading to improved patient functional outcomes are surgical precision and vision.
Clinical Need
Uterine and cervical cancers represent 5.4% (4,400 of 81,700) and 1.6% (1,300 of 81,700), respectively, of incident cases of cancer among female cancers in Canada. Uterine cancer, otherwise referred to as endometrial cancer is cancer of the lining of the uterus. The most common treatment option for endometrial cancer is removing the cancer through surgery. A surgical option is the removal of the uterus and cervix through a small incision in the abdomen using a laparoscope which is referred to as total laparoscopic hysterectomy. Risk factors that increase the risk of endometrial cancer include taking estrogen replacement therapy after menopause, being obese, early age at menarche, late age at menopause, being nulliparous, having had high-dose radiation to the pelvis, and use of tamoxifen.
Cervical cancer occurs at the lower narrow end of the uterus. There are more treatment options for cervical cancer compared to endometrial cancer, however total laparoscopic hysterectomy is also a treatment option. Risk factors that increase the risk for cervical cancer are multiple sexual partners, early sexual activity, infection with the human papillomavirus, and cigarette smoking, whereas barrier-type of contraception as a risk factor decreases the risk of cervical cancer.
Prostate cancer is ranked first in men in Canada in terms of the number of new cases among all male cancers (25,500 of 89,300 or 28.6%). The impact on men who develop prostate cancer is substantial given the potential for erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. Prostate cancer arises within the prostate gland, which resides in the male reproductive system and near the bladder. Radical retropubic prostatectomy is the gold standard treatment for localized prostate cancer. Prostate cancer affects men above 60 years of age. Other risk factors include a family history of prostate cancer, being of African descent, being obese, consuming a diet high in fat, physical inactivity, and working with cadium.
The Da Vinci Surgical System
The Da Vinci Surgical System is a robotic device. There are four main components to the system: 1) the surgeon’s console, where the surgeon sits and views a magnified three-dimensional image of the surgical field; 2) patient side-cart, which sits beside the patient and consists of three instrument arms and one endoscope arm; 3) detachable instruments (endowrist instruments and intuitive masters), which simulate fine motor human movements. The hand movements of the surgeon’s hands at the surgeon’s console are translated into smaller ones by the robotic device and are acted out by the attached instruments; 4) three-dimensional vision system: the camera unit or endoscope arm. The main advantages of use of the robotic device are: 1) the precision of the instrument and improved dexterity due to the use of “wristed” instruments; 2) three-dimensional imaging, with improved ability to locate blood vessels, nerves and tissues; 3) the surgeon’s console, which reduces fatigue accompanied with conventional laparoscopy surgery and allows for tremor-free manipulation. The main disadvantages of use of the robotic device are the costs including instrument costs ($2.6 million in US dollars), cost per use ($200 per use), the costs associated with training surgeons and operating room personnel, and the lack of tactile feedback, with the trade-off being increased visual feedback.
Research Questions
For endometrial and cervical cancers,
1. What is the effectiveness of the Da Vinci Surgical System vs. laparoscopy and laparotomy for women undergoing any hysterectomy for the surgical treatment and management of their endometrial and cervical cancers?
2. What are the incremental costs of the Da Vinci Surgical System vs. laparoscopy and laparotomy for women undergoing any hysterectomy for the surgical treatment and management of their endometrial and cervical cancers?
For prostate cancer,
3. What is the effectiveness of robotically-assisted radical prostatectomy using the Da Vinci Surgical System vs. laparoscopic radical prostatectomy and retropubic radical prostatectomy for the surgical treatment and management of prostate cancer?
4. What are the incremental costs of robotically-assisted radical prostatectomy using the Da Vinci Surgical System vs. laparoscopic radical prostatectomy and retropubic radical prostatectomy for the surgical treatment and management of prostate cancer?
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on May 12, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, OVID EMBASE, Wiley Cochrane, CINAHL, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination/International Agency for Health Technology Assessment for studies published from January 1, 2000 until May 12, 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Inclusion Criteria
English language articles (January 1, 2000-May 12, 2010)
Journal articles that report on the effectiveness or cost-effectiveness for the comparisons of interest using a primary data source (e.g. obtained in a clinical setting)
Journal articles that report on the effectiveness or cost-effectiveness for the comparisons of interest using a secondary data source (e.g. hospital- or population-based registries)
Study design and methods must be clearly described
Health technology assessments, systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials, non-randomized controlled trials and/or cohort studies, case-case studies, regardless of sample size, cost-effectiveness studies
Exclusion Criteria
Duplicate publications (with the more recent publication on the same study population included)
Non-English papers
Animal or in-vitro studies
Case reports or case series without a referent or comparison group
Studies on long-term survival which may be affected by treatment
Studies that do not examine the cancers (e.g. advanced disease) or outcomes of interest
Outcomes of Interest
For endometrial and cervical cancers,
Primary outcomes:
Morbidity factors
- Length of hospitalization
- Number of complications*
Peri-operative factors
- Operation time
- Amount of blood loss*
- Number of conversions to laparotomy*
Number of lymph nodes recovered
For prostate cancer,
Primary outcomes:
Morbidity factors
- Length of hospitalization
- Amount of morphine use/pain*
Peri-operative factors
- Operation time
- Amount of blood loss*
- Number of transfusions*
- Duration of catheterization
- Number of complications*
- Number of anastomotic strictures*
Number of lymph nodes recovered
Oncologic factors
- Proportion of positive surgical margins
Long-term outcomes
- Urinary continence
- Erectile function
Summary of Findings
Robotic use for gynecologic oncology compared to:
Laparotomy: benefits of robotic surgery in terms of shorter length of hospitalization and less blood loss. These results indicate clinical effectiveness in terms of reduced morbidity and safety, respectively, in the context of study design limitations.
The beneficial effect of robotic surgery was shown in pooled analysis for complications, owing to increased sample size.
More work is needed to clarify the role of complications in terms of safety, including improved study designs, analysis and measurement.
Laparoscopy: benefits of robotic surgery in terms of shorter length of hospitalization, less blood loss and fewer conversions to laparotomy likely owing to the technical difficulty of conventional laparoscopy, in the context of study design limitations.
Clinical significance of significant findings for length of hospitalizations and blood loss is low.
Fewer conversions to laparotomy indicate clinical effectiveness in terms of reduced morbidity.
Robotic use for urologic oncology, specifically prostate cancer, compared to:
Retropubic surgery: benefits of robotic surgery in terms of shorter length of hospitalization and less blood loss/fewer individuals requiring transfusions. These results indicate clinical effectiveness in terms of reduced morbidity and safety, respectively, in the context of study design limitations. There was a beneficial effect in terms of decreased positive surgical margins and erectile dysfunction. These results indicate clinical effectiveness in terms of improved cancer control and functional outcomes, respectively, in the context of study design limitations.
Surgeon skill had an impact on cancer control and functional outcomes.
The results for complications were inconsistent when measured as either total number of complications, pain management or anastomosis. There is some suggestion that robotic surgery is safe with respect to less post-operative pain management required compared to retropubic surgery, however improved study design and measurement of complications need to be further addressed.
Clinical significance of significant findings for length of hospitalizations is low.
Laparoscopy: benefits of robotic surgery in terms of less blood loss and fewer individuals requiring transfusions likely owing to the technical difficulty of conventional laparoscopy, in the context of study design limitations.
Clinical significance of significant findings for blood loss is low.
The potential link between less blood loss, improved visualization and improved functional outcomes is an important consideration for use of robotics.
All studies included were observational in nature and therefore the results must be interpreted cautiously.
Economic Analysis
The objective of this project was to assess the economic impact of robotic-assisted laparoscopy (RAL) for endometrial, cervical, and prostate cancers in the province of Ontario.
A budget impact analysis was undertaken to report direct costs associated with open surgery (OS), endoscopic laparoscopy (EL) and robotic-assisted laparoscopy (RAL) based on clinical literature review outcomes, to report a budget impact in the province based on volumes and costs from administrative data sets, and to project a future impact of RAL in Ontario. A cost-effectiveness analysis was not conducted because of the low quality evidence from the clinical literature review.
Hospital costs were obtained from the Ontario Case Costing Initiative (OCCI) for the appropriate Canadian Classification of Health Intervention (CCI) codes restricted to selective ICD-10 diagnostic codes after consultation with experts in the field. Physician fees were obtained from the Ontario Schedule of Benefits (OSB) after consultation with experts in the field. Fees were costed based on operation times reported in the clinical literature for the procedures being investigated. Volumes of procedures were obtained from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) administrative databases.
Direct costs associated with RAL, EL and OS included professional fees, hospital costs (including disposable instruments), radiotherapy costs associated with positive surgical margins in prostate cancer and conversion to OS in gynecological cancer. The total cost per case was higher for RAL than EL and OS for both gynecological and prostate cancers. There is also an acquisition cost associated with RAL. After conversation with the only supplier in Canada, hospitals are looking to spend an initial 3.6M to acquire the robotic surgical system
Previous volumes of OS and EL procedures were used to project volumes into Years 1-3 using a linear mathematical expression. Burden of OS and EL hysterectomies and prostatectomies was calculated by multiplying the number of cases for that year by the cost/case of the procedure.
The number of procedures is expected to increase in the next three years based on historical data. RAL is expected to capture this market by 65% after consultation with experts. If it’s assumed that RAL will capture the current market in Ontario by 65%, the net impact is expected to be by Year 3, 3.1M for hysterectomy and 6.7M for prostatectomy procedures respectively in the province.
RAL has diffused in the province with four surgical systems in place in Ontario, two in Toronto and two in London. RAL is a more expensive technology on a per case basis due to more expensive robot specific instrumentation and physician labour reflected by increased OR time reported in the clinical literature. There is also an upfront cost to acquire the machine and maintenance contract. RAL is expected to capture the market at 65% with project net impacts by Year 3 of 3.1M and 6.7M for hysterectomy and prostatectomy respectively.
PMCID: PMC3382308  PMID: 23074405
19.  The Argus II prosthesis facilitates reaching and grasping tasks: a case series 
BMC Ophthalmology  2014;14:71.
Background
To evaluate the reach-to-grasp performance of patients fitted with an epiretinal artifical retina device.
Methods
This was a hospital-based case series consisting of six patients fitted with the Argus II (Second Sight Medical Products Inc, California, USA) retinal prosthesis. Participants were asked to reach out and pick up a high-contrast cuboid object with the prosthesis in the ‘On’, ‘Off’ or ‘Scrambled’ setting presented in a randomised order. The ‘Scrambled’ setting consisted of a random, scattered signal presented to the prosthesis. The session was repeated after a 4–6 week period. Hand movements were measured using motion detection cameras. The number of successful object grasps was calculated.
Results
The number of successful grasps was greater with the prosthesis in the ‘On’ setting (visit 1: median [interquartile range] percentage success: ‘Off’ = 0 [0 to 50]%, ‘On’ = 69 [67 to 95]%, ‘Scrambled’ = 59 [42 to 95]%; Friedman Chi-squared test statistic 6.5, p = 0.04; visit 2 median [IQR] percentage success: ‘Off’ = 0 [0 to 25]%, ‘On’ = 69 [53 to 100]%, ‘Scrambled’ = 28 [13 to 63]%; Friedman Chi-squared test statistic 8.4, p = 0.02).
Conclusions
The use of an electronic retinal prosthesis facilitates reach-and-grasp performance. Further work should explore how performance can be improved with targeted rehabilitation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2415-14-71
PMCID: PMC4039311  PMID: 24885164
Retinal prosthesis; Functional vision; Reach and grasp
20.  Clinical Utility of Serologic Testing for Celiac Disease in Ontario 
Executive Summary
Objective of Analysis
The objective of this evidence-based evaluation is to assess the accuracy of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease in subjects with symptoms consistent with this disease. Furthermore the impact of these tests in the diagnostic pathway of the disease and decision making was also evaluated.
Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that develops in genetically predisposed individuals. The immunological response is triggered by ingestion of gluten, a protein that is present in wheat, rye, and barley. The treatment consists of strict lifelong adherence to a gluten-free diet (GFD).
Patients with celiac disease may present with a myriad of symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, iron deficiency anemia, dermatitis herpetiformis, among others.
Serologic Testing in the Diagnosis Celiac Disease
There are a number of serologic tests used in the diagnosis of celiac disease.
Anti-gliadin antibody (AGA)
Anti-endomysial antibody (EMA)
Anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody (tTG)
Anti-deamidated gliadin peptides antibodies (DGP)
Serologic tests are automated with the exception of the EMA test, which is more time-consuming and operator-dependent than the other tests. For each serologic test, both immunoglobulin A (IgA) or G (IgG) can be measured, however, IgA measurement is the standard antibody measured in celiac disease.
Diagnosis of Celiac Disease
According to celiac disease guidelines, the diagnosis of celiac disease is established by small bowel biopsy. Serologic tests are used to initially detect and to support the diagnosis of celiac disease. A small bowel biopsy is indicated in individuals with a positive serologic test. In some cases an endoscopy and small bowel biopsy may be required even with a negative serologic test. The diagnosis of celiac disease must be performed on a gluten-containing diet since the small intestine abnormalities and the serologic antibody levels may resolve or improve on a GFD.
Since IgA measurement is the standard for the serologic celiac disease tests, false negatives may occur in IgA-deficient individuals.
Incidence and Prevalence of Celiac Disease
The incidence and prevalence of celiac disease in the general population and in subjects with symptoms consistent with or at higher risk of celiac disease based on systematic reviews published in 2004 and 2009 are summarized below.
Incidence of Celiac Disease in the General Population
Adults or mixed population: 1 to 17/100,000/year
Children: 2 to 51/100,000/year
In one of the studies, a stratified analysis showed that there was a higher incidence of celiac disease in younger children compared to older children, i.e., 51 cases/100,000/year in 0 to 2 year-olds, 33/100,000/year in 2 to 5 year-olds, and 10/100,000/year in children 5 to 15 years old.
Prevalence of Celiac Disease in the General Population
The prevalence of celiac disease reported in population-based studies identified in the 2004 systematic review varied between 0.14% and 1.87% (median: 0.47%, interquartile range: 0.25%, 0.71%). According to the authors of the review, the prevalence did not vary by age group, i.e., adults and children.
Prevalence of Celiac Disease in High Risk Subjects
Type 1 diabetes (adults and children): 1 to 11%
Autoimmune thyroid disease: 2.9 to 3.3%
First degree relatives of patients with celiac disease: 2 to 20%
Prevalence of Celiac Disease in Subjects with Symptoms Consistent with the Disease
The prevalence of celiac disease in subjects with symptoms consistent with the disease varied widely among studies, i.e., 1.5% to 50% in adult studies, and 1.1% to 17% in pediatric studies. Differences in prevalence may be related to the referral pattern as the authors of a systematic review noted that the prevalence tended to be higher in studies whose population originated from tertiary referral centres compared to general practice.
Research Questions
What is the sensitivity and specificity of serologic tests in the diagnosis celiac disease?
What is the clinical validity of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease? The clinical validity was defined as the ability of the test to change diagnosis.
What is the clinical utility of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease? The clinical utility was defined as the impact of the test on decision making.
What is the budget impact of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease?
What is the cost-effectiveness of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease?
Methods
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on November 13th, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1st 2003 and November 13th 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Studies that evaluated diagnostic accuracy, i.e., both sensitivity and specificity of serology tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease.
Study population consisted of untreated patients with symptoms consistent with celiac disease.
Studies in which both serologic celiac disease tests and small bowel biopsy (gold standard) were used in all subjects.
Systematic reviews, meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials, prospective observational studies, and retrospective cohort studies.
At least 20 subjects included in the celiac disease group.
English language.
Human studies.
Studies published from 2000 on.
Clearly defined cut-off value for the serology test. If more than one test was evaluated, only those tests for which a cut-off was provided were included.
Description of small bowel biopsy procedure clearly outlined (location, number of biopsies per patient), unless if specified that celiac disease diagnosis guidelines were followed.
Patients in the treatment group had untreated CD.
Studies on screening of the general asymptomatic population.
Studies that evaluated rapid diagnostic kits for use either at home or in physician’s offices.
Studies that evaluated diagnostic modalities other than serologic tests such as capsule endoscopy, push enteroscopy, or genetic testing.
Cut-off for serologic tests defined based on controls included in the study.
Study population defined based on positive serology or subjects pre-screened by serology tests.
Celiac disease status known before study enrolment.
Sensitivity or specificity estimates based on repeated testing for the same subject.
Non-peer-reviewed literature such as editorials and letters to the editor.
Population
The population consisted of adults and children with untreated, undiagnosed celiac disease with symptoms consistent with the disease.
Serologic Celiac Disease Tests Evaluated
Anti-gliadin antibody (AGA)
Anti-endomysial antibody (EMA)
Anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody (tTG)
Anti-deamidated gliadin peptides antibody (DGP)
Combinations of some of the serologic tests listed above were evaluated in some studies
Both IgA and IgG antibodies were evaluated for the serologic tests listed above.
Outcomes of Interest
Sensitivity
Specificity
Positive and negative likelihood ratios
Diagnostic odds ratio (OR)
Area under the sROC curve (AUC)
Small bowel biopsy was used as the gold standard in order to estimate the sensitivity and specificity of each serologic test.
Statistical Analysis
Pooled estimates of sensitivity, specificity and diagnostic odds ratios (DORs) for the different serologic tests were calculated using a bivariate, binomial generalized linear mixed model. Statistical significance for differences in sensitivity and specificity between serologic tests was defined by P values less than 0.05, where “false discovery rate” adjustments were made for multiple hypothesis testing. The bivariate regression analyses were performed using SAS version 9.2 (SAS Institute Inc.; Cary, NC, USA). Using the bivariate model parameters, summary receiver operating characteristic (sROC) curves were produced using Review Manager 5.0.22 (The Nordiac Cochrane Centre, The Cochrane Collaboration, 2008). The area under the sROC curve (AUC) was estimated by bivariate mixed-efects binary regression modeling framework. Model specification, estimation and prediction are carried out with xtmelogit in Stata release 10 (Statacorp, 2007). Statistical tests for the differences in AUC estimates could not be carried out.
The study results were stratified according to patient or disease characteristics such as age, severity of Marsh grade abnormalities, among others, if reported in the studies. The literature indicates that the diagnostic accuracy of serologic tests for celiac disease may be affected in patients with chronic liver disease, therefore, the studies identified through the systematic literature review that evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of serologic tests for celiac disease in patients with chronic liver disease were summarized. The effect of the GFD in patiens diagnosed with celiac disease was also summarized if reported in the studies eligible for the analysis.
Summary of Findings
Published Systematic Reviews
Five systematic reviews of studies that evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of serologic celiac disease tests were identified through our literature search. Seventeen individual studies identified in adults and children were eligible for this evaluation.
In general, the studies included evaluated the sensitivity and specificity of at least one serologic test in subjects with symptoms consistent with celiac disease. The gold standard used to confirm the celiac disease diagnosis was small bowel biopsy. Serologic tests evaluated included tTG, EMA, AGA, and DGP, using either IgA or IgG antibodies. Indirect immunoflurorescence was used for the EMA serologic tests whereas enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used for the other serologic tests.
Common symptoms described in the studies were chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, unexplained weight loss, unexplained anemia, and dermatitis herpetiformis.
The main conclusions of the published systematic reviews are summarized below.
IgA tTG and/or IgA EMA have a high accuracy (pooled sensitivity: 90% to 98%, pooled specificity: 95% to 99% depending on the pooled analysis).
Most reviews found that AGA (IgA or IgG) are not as accurate as IgA tTG and/or EMA tests.
A 2009 systematic review concluded that DGP (IgA or IgG) seems to have a similar accuracy compared to tTG, however, since only 2 studies identified evaluated its accuracy, the authors believe that additional data is required to draw firm conclusions.
Two systematic reviews also concluded that combining two serologic celiac disease tests has little contribution to the accuracy of the diagnosis.
MAS Analysis
Sensitivity
The pooled analysis performed by MAS showed that IgA tTG has a sensitivity of 92.1% [95% confidence interval (CI) 88.0, 96.3], compared to 89.2% (83.3, 95.1, p=0.12) for IgA DGP, 85.1% (79.5, 94.4, p=0.07) for IgA EMA, and 74.9% (63.6, 86.2, p=0.0003) for IgA AGA. Among the IgG-based tests, the results suggest that IgG DGP has a sensitivity of 88.4% (95% CI: 82.1, 94.6), 44.7% (30.3, 59.2) for tTG, and 69.1% (56.0, 82.2) for AGA. The difference was significant when IgG DGP was compared to IgG tTG but not IgG AGA. Combining serologic celiac disease tests yielded a slightly higher sensitivity compared to individual IgA-based serologic tests.
IgA deficiency
The prevalence of total or severe IgA deficiency was low in the studies identified varying between 0 and 1.7% as reported in 3 studies in which IgA deficiency was not used as a referral indication for celiac disease serologic testing. The results of IgG-based serologic tests were positive in all patients with IgA deficiency in which celiac disease was confirmed by small bowel biopsy as reported in four studies.
Specificity
The MAS pooled analysis indicates a high specificity across the different serologic tests including the combination strategy, pooled estimates ranged from 90.1% to 98.7% depending on the test.
Likelihood Ratios
According to the likelihood ratio estimates, both IgA tTG and serologic test combinationa were considered very useful tests (positive likelihood ratio above ten and the negative likelihood ratio below 0.1).
Moderately useful tests included IgA EMA, IgA DGP, and IgG DGP (positive likelihood ratio between five and ten and the negative likelihood ratio between 0.1 and 0.2).
Somewhat useful tests: IgA AGA, IgG AGA, generating small but sometimes important changes from pre- to post-test probability (positive LR between 2 and 5 and negative LR between 0.2 and 0.5)
Not Useful: IgG tTG, altering pre- to post-test probability to a small and rarely important degree (positive LR between 1 and 2 and negative LR between 0.5 and 1).
Diagnostic Odds Ratios (DOR)
Among the individual serologic tests, IgA tTG had the highest DOR, 136.5 (95% CI: 51.9, 221.2). The statistical significance of the difference in DORs among tests was not calculated, however, considering the wide confidence intervals obtained, the differences may not be statistically significant.
Area Under the sROC Curve (AUC)
The sROC AUCs obtained ranged between 0.93 and 0.99 for most IgA-based tests with the exception of IgA AGA, with an AUC of 0.89.
Sensitivity and Specificity of Serologic Tests According to Age Groups
Serologic test accuracy did not seem to vary according to age (adults or children).
Sensitivity and Specificity of Serologic Tests According to Marsh Criteria
Four studies observed a trend towards a higher sensitivity of serologic celiac disease tests when Marsh 3c grade abnormalities were found in the small bowel biopsy compared to Marsh 3a or 3b (statistical significance not reported). The sensitivity of serologic tests was much lower when Marsh 1 grade abnormalities were found in small bowel biopsy compared to Marsh 3 grade abnormalities. The statistical significance of these findings were not reported in the studies.
Diagnostic Accuracy of Serologic Celiac Disease Tests in Subjects with Chronic Liver Disease
A total of 14 observational studies that evaluated the specificity of serologic celiac disease tests in subjects with chronic liver disease were identified. All studies evaluated the frequency of false positive results (1-specificity) of IgA tTG, however, IgA tTG test kits using different substrates were used, i.e., human recombinant, human, and guinea-pig substrates. The gold standard, small bowel biopsy, was used to confirm the result of the serologic tests in only 5 studies. The studies do not seem to have been designed or powered to compare the diagnostic accuracy among different serologic celiac disease tests.
The results of the studies identified in the systematic literature review suggest that there is a trend towards a lower frequency of false positive results if the IgA tTG test using human recombinant substrate is used compared to the guinea pig substrate in subjects with chronic liver disease. However, the statistical significance of the difference was not reported in the studies. When IgA tTG with human recombinant substrate was used, the number of false positives seems to be similar to what was estimated in the MAS pooled analysis for IgA-based serologic tests in a general population of patients. These results should be interpreted with caution since most studies did not use the gold standard, small bowel biopsy, to confirm or exclude the diagnosis of celiac disease, and since the studies were not designed to compare the diagnostic accuracy among different serologic tests. The sensitivity of the different serologic tests in patients with chronic liver disease was not evaluated in the studies identified.
Effects of a Gluten-Free Diet (GFD) in Patients Diagnosed with Celiac Disease
Six studies identified evaluated the effects of GFD on clinical, histological, or serologic improvement in patients diagnosed with celiac disease. Improvement was observed in 51% to 95% of the patients included in the studies.
Grading of Evidence
Overall, the quality of the evidence ranged from moderate to very low depending on the serologic celiac disease test. Reasons to downgrade the quality of the evidence included the use of a surrogate endpoint (diagnostic accuracy) since none of the studies evaluated clinical outcomes, inconsistencies among study results, imprecise estimates, and sparse data. The quality of the evidence was considered moderate for IgA tTg and IgA EMA, low for IgA DGP, and serologic test combinations, and very low for IgA AGA.
Clinical Validity and Clinical Utility of Serologic Testing in the Diagnosis of Celiac Disease
The clinical validity of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease was considered high in subjects with symptoms consistent with this disease due to
High accuracy of some serologic tests.
Serologic tests detect possible celiac disease cases and avoid unnecessary small bowel biopsy if the test result is negative, unless an endoscopy/ small bowel biopsy is necessary due to the clinical presentation.
Serologic tests support the results of small bowel biopsy.
The clinical utility of serologic tests for the diagnosis of celiac disease, as defined by its impact in decision making was also considered high in subjects with symptoms consistent with this disease given the considerations listed above and since celiac disease diagnosis leads to treatment with a gluten-free diet.
Economic Analysis
A decision analysis was constructed to compare costs and outcomes between the tests based on the sensitivity, specificity and prevalence summary estimates from the MAS Evidence-Based Analysis (EBA). A budget impact was then calculated by multiplying the expected costs and volumes in Ontario. The outcome of the analysis was expected costs and false negatives (FN). Costs were reported in 2010 CAD$. All analyses were performed using TreeAge Pro Suite 2009.
Four strategies made up the efficiency frontier; IgG tTG, IgA tTG, EMA and small bowel biopsy. All other strategies were dominated. IgG tTG was the least costly and least effective strategy ($178.95, FN avoided=0). Small bowel biopsy was the most costly and most effective strategy ($396.60, FN avoided =0.1553). The cost per FN avoided were $293, $369, $1,401 for EMA, IgATTG and small bowel biopsy respectively. One-way sensitivity analyses did not change the ranking of strategies.
All testing strategies with small bowel biopsy are cheaper than biopsy alone however they also result in more FNs. The most cost-effective strategy will depend on the decision makers’ willingness to pay. Findings suggest that IgA tTG was the most cost-effective and feasible strategy based on its Incremental Cost-Effectiveness Ratio (ICER) and convenience to conduct the test. The potential impact of IgA tTG test in the province of Ontario would be $10.4M, $11.0M and $11.7M respectively in the following three years based on past volumes and trends in the province and basecase expected costs.
The panel of tests is the commonly used strategy in the province of Ontario therefore the impact to the system would be $13.6M, $14.5M and $15.3M respectively in the next three years based on past volumes and trends in the province and basecase expected costs.
Conclusions
The clinical validity and clinical utility of serologic tests for celiac disease was considered high in subjects with symptoms consistent with this disease as they aid in the diagnosis of celiac disease and some tests present a high accuracy.
The study findings suggest that IgA tTG is the most accurate and the most cost-effective test.
AGA test (IgA) has a lower accuracy compared to other IgA-based tests
Serologic test combinations appear to be more costly with little gain in accuracy. In addition there may be problems with generalizability of the results of the studies included in this review if different test combinations are used in clinical practice.
IgA deficiency seems to be uncommon in patients diagnosed with celiac disease.
The generalizability of study results is contingent on performing both the serologic test and small bowel biopsy in subjects on a gluten-containing diet as was the case in the studies identified, since the avoidance of gluten may affect test results.
PMCID: PMC3377499  PMID: 23074399
21.  Electrically Elicited Visual Evoked Potentials in Argus II Retinal Implant Wearers 
Purpose.
We characterized electrically elicited visual evoked potentials (eVEPs) in Argus II retinal implant wearers.
Methods.
eVEPs were recorded in four subjects, and analyzed by determining amplitude and latency of the first two positive peaks (P1 and P2). Subjects provided subjective feedback by rating the brightness and size of the phosphenes. We established eVEP input–output relationships, eVEP variability between and within subjects, the effect of stimulating different areas of the retina, and the maximal pulse rate to record eVEPs reliably.
Results.
eVEP waveforms had low signal-to-noise ratios, requiring long recording times and substantial signal processing. Waveforms varied between subjects, but showed good reproducibility and consistent parameter dependence within subjects. P2 amplitude overall was the most robust outcome measure and proved an accurate indicator of subjective threshold. Peak latencies showed small within-subject variability, yet their correlation with stimulus level and subjective rating were more variable than that of peak amplitudes. Pulse rates of up to 2/3 Hz resulted in reliable eVEP recordings. Perceived phosphene brightness declined over time, as reflected in P1 amplitude, but not in P2 amplitude or peak latencies. Stimulating-electrode location significantly affected P1 and P2 amplitude and latency, but not subjective percepts.
Conclusions.
While recording times and signal processing are more demanding than for standard visually evoked potential (VEP) recordings, the eVEP has proven to be a reliable tool to verify retinal implant functionality. eVEPs correlated with various stimulus parameters and with perceptual ratings. In view of these findings, eVEPs may become an important tool in functional investigations of retinal prostheses. (ClinicalTrials.gov number NCT00407602.)
Dutch Abstract
We characterized electrically elicited visual evoked potentials (eVEPs) in Argus II retinal implant wearers. eVEPs were correlated significantly with stimulus level and subjective percept. We conclude that eVEPs may become an important tool for intraoperative monitoring and rehabilitation purposes.
doi:10.1167/iovs.13-11594
PMCID: PMC3676187  PMID: 23611993
retinal implant; visual evoked potential; visual prosthesis; psychophysics
22.  Intraocular retinal prosthesis. 
PURPOSE: An electronic implant that can bypass the damaged photoreceptors and electrically stimulate the remaining retinal neurons to restore useful vision has been proposed. A number of key questions remain to make this approach feasible. The goal of this thesis is to address the following 2 specific null hypotheses: (1) Stimulus parameters make no difference in the electrically elicited retinal responses. (2) Just as we have millions of photoreceptors, so it will take a device that can generate millions of pixels/light points to create useful vision. METHODS: For electrophysiologic experiments, 2 different setups were used. In the first setup, charge-balanced pulses were delivered to the retinal surface via electrodes inserted through an open sky approach in normal or blind retinal degenerate (rd) mice. In the second setup, the rabbit retina was removed under red light conditions from an enucleated eye and then maintained in a chamber while being superfused with oxygenated, heated Ames media. In both setups, stimulating electrodes and recording electrodes were positioned on the retinal surface to evaluate the effect of varying stimulation parameters on the orthodromic retinal responses (i.e., recording electrode placed between stimulating electrodes and optic nerve head). For psychophysical experiments, visual images were divided into pixels of light that could be projected in a pattern on the retina in up to 8 sighted volunteers. Subjects were asked to perform various tasks ranging from reading and face recognition to various activities of daily living. RESULTS: Electrophysiologic experiments: In a normal mouse, a single cycle of a 1-kHz sine wave was significantly more efficient than a 1-kHz square wave (P < .05), but no such difference was noted in either of the 8- or 16-week-old rd mouse groups (8-week-old, P = .426; 16-week-old, P = .078). Charge threshold was significantly higher in 16-week-old rd mouse versus both 8-week-old rd and normal mouse for every stimulus duration (P < .05). In all groups, short duration pulses (40, 80, and 120 microseconds) were more efficient in terms of total charge (the product of pulse amplitude and pulse duration) than longer (500 and 1,000 microseconds) pulses (P < .05). In all groups, applying a pulse train did not lead to more efficient charge usage (P < .05). Psychophysical experiments: In high-contrast tests, facial recognition rates of over 75% were achieved for all subjects with dot sizes of up to 31.5 minutes of arc when using a 25 x 25 grid with 4.5 arc minute gaps, a 30% dropout rate, and 6 gray levels. Even with a 4 x 4 array of pixels, some subjects were able to accurately describe 2 of the objects. Subjects who were able to read the 4-pixel letter height sentences (on the 6 x 10 and 16 x 16 array) seemed to have a good scanning technique. Scanning at the proper velocity tends to bring out more contrast in the lettering. The reading speed for the 72-point font is a bit slower than for the next smaller font. This may be due to the limited number of letters (3) visible in the window with this large font. CONCLUSIONS: Specific parameters needed to stimulate the retina were identified. Delineating the optimum parameters will decrease the current requirements. Psychophysical tests show that with limited pixels and image processing, useful vision is possible. Both these findings should greatly simplify the engineering of an electronic retinal prosthesis.
PMCID: PMC1359018  PMID: 11797315
23.  Optical Coherence Tomography for Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Macular Edema 
Executive Summary
Objective
The purpose of this evidence-based review was to examine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of spectral-domain (SD) optical coherence tomography (OCT) in the diagnosis and monitoring of patients with retinal disease, specifically age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular edema (DME). Specifically, the research question addressed was:
What is the sensitivity and specificity of spectral domain OCT relative to the gold standard?
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
The incidence of blindness has been increasing worldwide. In Canada, vision loss in those 65 years of age and older is primarily due to AMD, while loss of vision in those 18 years of age and older is mainly due to DME. Both of these conditions are diseases of the retina, which is located at the back of the eye. At the center of the retina is the macula, a 5 mm region that is responsible for what we see in front of us, our ability to detect colour, and fine detail. Damage to the macula gives rise to vision loss, but early detection of asymptomatic disease may lead to the prevention or slowing of the vision loss process.
There are two main types of AMD, ‘dry’ and ‘wet’. Dry AMD is the more prevalent of the two, accounting for approximately 85% of cases and characterized by small deposits of extracellular material called “drusen” that build up in Bruch’s membrane of the eye. Central vision loss is gradual with blurring and eventual colour fading. Wet AMD is a less prevalent condition (15% of all AMD cases) but it accounts for 90% of severe cases. It’s characterized by the appearance of retinal fluid with vision loss due to abnormal blood vessels/leakage within weeks to months of diagnosis. In 2003, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) prevalence estimate for AMD was 1 million Canadians, including approximately 400,000 affected Ontarians. The incidence in 2003 was estimated to be 78,000 new cases in Canada, with approximately one-third of these cases arising in Ontario (n=26,000). Over the next 25 years, the number of new cases is expected to triple.
DME is caused by complications of diabetes mellitus, both Type 1 and Type 2. It is estimated that 1-in-4 persons with diabetes has this condition, though it occurs more frequently among those with type 2 diabetes. The condition is characterized by a swelling of the retina caused by leakage of blood vessels at the back of the eye. In early stages of the disease, vision may still be normal but it can degrade rapidly in later stages. In 2003, the CNIB prevalence estimate for DME was 0.5 million Canadians, with approximately 200,000 Ontarians affected. The incidence of DME is more difficult to ascertain; however, based on an annual incidence rate of 0.8% (for those 20 years of age or older) and the assumption that 1-in-4 persons with diabetes is affected, the incidence of DME in Ontario is estimated to be 21,000 new cases per year.
Optical Coherence Tomography
Prior to the availability of OCT, the standard of care in the diagnosis and/or monitoring of retinal disease was serial testing with fluorescein angiography (FA), biomicroscopy (BM), and stereo-fundus photography (SFP). Each of these is a qualitative measure of disease based on subjective evaluations that are largely dependent on physician expertise. OCT is the first quantitative visual test available for the diagnosis of eye disease. As such, it is allows for a more objective evaluation of the presence/absence of retinal disease and it is the only test that provides a measure of retinal thickness. The technology was developed at the Michigan Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1991 as a real-time imaging modality and is considered comparable to histology. It’s a light-wave based technology producing cross-sectional images with scan rates and resolution parameters that have greatly improved over the last 10 years. It’s also a non-invasive, non-contact visual test that requires just 3 to 5 minutes to assess both eyes.
There are two main types of OCT system, both licensed by Health Canada as class II devices. The original patent was based on a time domain (TD) system (available from 1995) that had an image rate of 100 to 400 scans per second and provided information for a limited view of the retina with a resolution in the range of 10 to 20 μm. The newer system, spectral domain (SD) OCT, has been available since 2006. Improvements with this system include (i) a faster scan speed of approximately 27,000 scans per second; (ii) the ability to scan larger areas of the retina by taking six scans radially-oriented 30 degrees from each other; (iii) increased resolution at 5μm; and (iv) ‘real-time registration,’ which was not previously available with TD.
The increased scan speed of SD systems enables the collection of additional real-time information on larger regions of the retina, thus, reducing the reliance on assumptions required for retinal thickness and volume estimates based on software algorithms. The faster scan speed also eliminates image distortion arising from patient movement (not previously possible with TD), while the improvement in resolution allows for clearer and more distinguishable retinal layers with the possibility of detecting earlier signs of disease. Real-time registration is a new feature of SD that enables the identification of specific anatomical locations on the retina, against which subsequent tests can be evaluated. This is of particular importance in the monitoring of patients. In the evaluation of treatment effects, for example, this enables the same anatomic retinal location to be identified at each visit.
Methods
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on February 13, 2009 using Ovid MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 2003 to February 2009. The subject headings and keywords searched included AMD, DME, and OCT (the detailed search strategy can be viewed in Appendix 1). Excluded were case reports, comments, editorials, non-systematic reviews, and letters. Abstacts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. In total, 542 articles were included for review.
English-language articles and health technology assessments.
RCTs and observational studies of OCT and AMD or DME.
Studies focusing on either diagnosis or monitoring of disease.
Studies in which outcomes were not specific to those of interest in this report.
Studies of pediatric populations.
Studies on OCT as a screening tool.
Studies that did not assess comparative effectiveness of OCT with a referent, as specified below in “Comparisons of Interest”.
Outcomes of Interest
Studies of sensitivity, specificity.
Comparisons of Interest
Evidence exists for the following comparisons of interest:
OCT compared with the reference “fluorescein angiography” for AMD.
OCT compared with the reference “biomicroscopy” or “stereo or fundus photography” for DME.
Summary of Existing Evidence
No evidence for the accuracy of SD OCT compared to either FA, BM or SFP was published between January 2006 to February 2009; however, two technology assessments were found, one from Alberta and the other from Germany, both of which contain evidence for TD OCT. Although these HTAs included eight studies each, only one study from each report was specific to this review. Additionally, one systematic review was identified for OCT and DME. It is these three articles, all pertaining to time and not spectral domain OCT, as well as comments from experts in the field of OCT and retinal disease, that comprise the evidence contained in this review.
Upon further assessment and consultations with experts in the methodology of clinical test evaluation, it was concluded that these comparators could not be used as references in the evaluation of OCT. The main conclusion was that, without a third test as an arbiter, it is not possible to directly compare the sensitivity and specificity of OCT relative to either FA for AMD and stereo- or fundus – photography for DME. Therefore, in the absence of published evidence, it was deemed appropriate to consult a panel of experts for their views and opinions on the validity of OCT and its utility in clinical settings. This panel consisted of four clinicians with expertise in AMD and/or DME and OCT, as well as a medical biophysicist with scientific expertise in ocular technologies. This is considered level 5 evidence, but in the absence of an appropriate comparator for further evaluation of OCT, this may be the highest level of evidence possible.
Summary of Findings
The conclusions for SD OCT based on Level 5 evidence, or expert consultation, are as follows:
OCT is considered an essential part of the diagnosis and follow-up of patients with DME and AMD.
OCT is adjunctive to FA for both AMD and DME but should decrease utilization of FA as a monitoring modality.
OCT will result in a decline in the use of BM in the monitoring of patients with DME, given its increased accuracy and consistency.
OCT is diffusing rapidly and the technology is changing. Since FA is still considered pivotal in the diagnosis and treatment of AMD and DME, and there is no common outcome against which to compare these technologies, it is unlikely that RCT evidence of efficacy for OCT will ever be forthcoming.
In addition to the accuracy of OCT in the detection of disease, assessment of the clinical utility of this technology included a rapid review of treatment effects for AMD and DME. The treatment of choice for AMD is Lucentis®, with or without Avastin® and photodynamic therapy. For DME the treatment of choice is laser photocoagulation, which may be replaced with Lucentis® injections (Expert consultation). The evidence, as presented in systematic reviews and other health technology assessments, indicates that there are effective treatments available for both AMD and DME.
Considerations for the Ontario Health System
OCT testing is presently an uninsured service in Ontario with patients paying approximately $150 out-of-pocket per test. Several provinces do provide funding for this procedure, including British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and the Yukon Territory. Provinces that do not provide such funding are Quebec, Manitoba and New Brunswick.
The demand for OCT is expected to increase with aging of the population.
PMCID: PMC3377511  PMID: 23074517
24.  Frequency and Amplitude Modulation Have Different Effects on the Percepts Elicited by Retinal Stimulation 
To restore functional form vision, epiretinal prostheses have been implanted in blind human subjects to electrically elicit percepts. These findings suggest that frequency modulation may be the best way to produce percepts that range widely in brightness while minimizing loss of spatial resolution.
Purpose.
In an effort to restore functional form vision, epiretinal prostheses that elicit percepts by directly stimulating remaining retinal circuitry were implanted in human subjects with advanced retinitis pigmentosa RP). In this study, manipulating pulse train frequency and amplitude had different effects on the size and brightness of phosphene appearance.
Methods.
Experiments were performed on a single subject with severe RP (implanted with a 16-channel epiretinal prosthesis in 2004) on nine individual electrodes. Psychophysical techniques were used to measure both the brightness and size of phosphenes when the biphasic pulse train was varied by either modulating the current amplitude (with constant frequency) or the stimulating frequency (with constant current amplitude).
Results.
Increasing stimulation frequency always increased brightness, while having a smaller effect on the size of elicited phosphenes. In contrast, increasing stimulation amplitude generally increased both the size and brightness of phosphenes. These experimental findings can be explained by using a simple computational model based on previous psychophysical work and the expected spatial spread of current from a disc electrode.
Conclusions.
Given that amplitude and frequency have separable effects on percept size, these findings suggest that frequency modulation improves the encoding of a wide range of brightness levels without a loss of spatial resolution. Future retinal prosthesis designs could benefit from having the flexibility to manipulate pulse train amplitude and frequency independently (clinicaltrials.gov number, NCT00279500).
doi:10.1167/iovs.11-8401
PMCID: PMC3292357  PMID: 22110084
25.  System training and assessment in simultaneous proportional myoelectric prosthesis control 
Background
Pattern recognition control of prosthetic hands take inputs from one or more myoelectric sensors and controls one or more degrees of freedom. However, most systems created allow only sequential control of one motion class at a time. Additionally, only recently have researchers demonstrated proportional myoelectric control in such systems, an option that is believed to make fine control easier for the user. Recent developments suggest improved reliability if the user follows a so-called prosthesis guided training (PGT) scheme.
Methods
In this study, a system for simultaneous proportional myoelectric control has been developed for a hand prosthesis with two motor functions (hand open/close, and wrist pro-/supination). The prosthesis has been used with a prosthesis socket equivalent designed for normally-limbed subjects. An extended version of PGT was developed for use with proportional control. The control system’s performance was tested for two subjects in the Clothespin Relocation Task and the Southampton Hand Assessment Procedure (SHAP). Simultaneous proportional control was compared with three other control strategies implemented on the same prosthesis: mutex proportional control (the same system but with simultaneous control disabled), mutex on-off control, and a more traditional, sequential proportional control system with co-contractions for state switching.
Results
The practical tests indicate that the simultaneous proportional control strategy and the two mutex-based pattern recognition strategies performed equally well, and superiorly to the more traditional sequential strategy according to the chosen outcome measures.
Conclusions
This is the first simultaneous proportional myoelectric control system demonstrated on a prosthesis affixed to the forearm of a subject. The study illustrates that PGT is a promising system training method for proportional control. Due to the limited number of subjects in this study, no definite conclusions can be drawn.
doi:10.1186/1743-0003-11-75
PMCID: PMC4041142  PMID: 24775602
Electromyography; Estimation; Myoelectric control; Proportional control; Prosthesis guided training; Prosthetics; Prosthetic hand

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