Tongue implant for assistive technologies: Test of migration, tissue reactivity and impact on tongue function

Sylive Mimche, Dukju Ahn, Mehdi Kiani, Hassan Elahi, Kyle Murray, Kirk Easley, Alan Sokoloff, Maysam Ghovanloo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective The Tongue Drive System (TDS) is a new wearable assistive technology (AT), developed to translate voluntary tongue movements to user-defined computer commands by tracking the position of a titanium-encased magnetic tracer (Ti-Mag) implanted into the tongue. TDS application, however, is constrained by limited information on biological consequence and safety of device implantation into the tongue body. Here we implant a stainless-steel pellet in the rat tongue and assay pellet migration, tongue lick function, and tongue histology to test the safety and biocompatibility of unanchored tongue implants. Design Water consumption, weight and lick behavior were measured before and for >24 days after implantation of a stainless-steel spherical pellet (0.5 mm) into the anterior tongue body of twelve adult male rats. X-rays were obtained weekly to assess pellet migration. Pellet location and tissue reaction to implantation were determined by post-mortem dissection and histology of the anterior tongue. Results By dissection pellets were distributed across the transverse plane of the tongue. Measures of water consumption, weight, and lick behavior were unchanged by implantation except for a decrease in consumption immediately post-implantation in some animals. By X-ray, there was no migration of the implant, a finding supported by pellet encapsulation demonstrated histologically. Measures of lick behavior were minimally impacted by implantation. Conclusion A smooth spherical stainless-steel implant in the anterior tongue of the rat does not migrate, is encapsulated and does not substantially impact lick behavior. These findings support the implantation of small tracers in the anterior tongue in humans for operating wearable assistive technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Oral Biology
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • General Dentistry
  • Cell Biology


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