Selective reinnervation: a comparison of recovery following microsuture and conduit nerve repair
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Selective reinnervation was studied by comparing the regeneration across a conventional neurorraphy versus a conduit nerve repair. Lewis rats underwent right sciatic nerve transection followed by one of four different nerve repairs (n = 8/group). In groups I and II a conventional neurorraphy was performed and in groups III and IV the proximal and distal stumps were coapted by use of a silicone conduit with an interstump gap of 5 mm. The proximal and distal stumps in groups I and III were aligned anatomically correct and the proximal stump was rotated 180 degrees in groups II and IV (i.e. proximal peroneal nerve opposite the distal tibial nerve and the proximal tibial nerve opposite the distal peroneal nerve). By 14 weeks, there was an equivalent, but incomplete return in sciatic function index (SFI) in groups I, III, and IV as measured by walking track analysis. However, the SFI became unmeasurable by 6 weeks in all group II animals. At 14 weeks, the percent innervation of the tibialis anterior and medial gastronemius muscles by the peroneal and tibial nerves respectively was estimated by selective compound muscle action potential amplitude recordings. When fascicular alignment was reversed, there was greater tibial (P = 0.02) and lesser peroneal (P = 0.005) innervation of the gastrocnemius muscle in the conduit (group IV) versus the neurorraphy (group II) group. This suggests that the gastrocnemius muscle may be selectively reinnervated by the tibial nerve. However, there was no evidence of selective reinnervation of the tibialis anterior muscle. Despite these differences, the functional recovery in both conduit repair groups (III and IV) was equivalent to a correctly aligned microsuture repair (group I) and superior to that in the incorrectly aligned microsuture repair (group II).
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