Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a neuromodulation scheme where a small current is delivered to the brain via two electrodes attached to the scalp. The electrode design is an important topic, not only as regards efficacy, but also from a safety perspective, as tDCS may be related to skin lesions that are sometimes observed after stimulation. Previous computational models of tDCS have omitted the effects of microscopic structures in the skin, and the different soak conditions of the electrodes, and model validation has been limited. In this study, multiphysics and multiscale analysis are proposed to demonstrate the importance of microscopic modeling of the skin, in order to clarify the effects of the internal electric field, and to examine temperature elevation around the electrodes. This novel microscopic model of the skin layer took into consideration the effect of saline/water penetration in hair follicles and sweat ducts on the field distribution around the electrodes. The temperature elevation in the skin was then computed by solving the bioheat equation. Also, a multiscale model was introduced to account for macroscopic and microscopic tissues of the head and skin, which was validated by measurement of the head resistance during tDCS. As a result, the electric field in the microscopic model of the skin was less localized when the follicles/ducts were filled with saline instead of hair or tap water. Temperature elevation was also lessened with saline, in comparison with other substances. Saline, which may penetrate the hair follicles and sweat ducts, suppressed the field concentration around the electrodes. For conventional magnitudes of current injection, and a head resistance of less than 10 kΩ, the temperature elevation in the skin when using saline-soaked electrodes was low, less than 0.1 °C, and unlikely to cause adverse thermal effects.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging