Facial-Hypoglossal Nerve Anastomosis Using Laser Nerve Welding

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Abstract

The aim of this study is to compare laser nerve welding to microsurgical suturing of hypoglossal-facial nerve anastomosis (HFA), and a result of immediate to delayed repair, and to evaluate the effect of laser nerve welding on HFA for reanimation of facial palsy. The first group of five rats underwent immediate HFA by microsurgical suturing and the second group of five rats by CO2 laser welding. The third group of five rats underwent delayed HFA by microsurgical suturing, and the fourth group of five rats by laser nerve welding. The fifth group of five rats served as controls, with intact hypoglossal and facial nerve. In all rats of the four different treatment groups, cholera toxin B subunit (CTb) was injected in the epineurium distal to the anastomosis site on the postoperative 6th week and in the normal hypoglossal nerve in the five rats of the control group. Neurons labeled CTb of hypoglossal nuclei were positive immunohistochemically, and the numbers were counted. In the immediate HFA groups, CTb-positive neurons were 751 ± 247 in the laser welding group (n = 5) and 888 ± 60 in the microsurgical suturing group (n = 5). There was no significant difference (P = 0.117). In the delayed HFA groups, CTb-positive neurons were 749 ± 54 in the laser welding group (n = 5) and 590 ± 169 in the microsurgical suturing group (n = 5). The difference was not significant (P = 0.116). There was no significant difference between immediate and delayed anastomosis in the laser welding group (P = 0.600), but there was significance between immediate and delayed anastomosis in the microsurgical suturing group (P = 0.009). Injected CTb in intact hypoglossal neurons (n = 5) were labeled 1,003 ± 52. No dehiscence in the laser welding site of nerve anastomosis was seen at the time of re-exploration for injection of CTb in all 10 rats. This study shows that the regeneration of anastomosed hypoglossal-facial nerve was affected similarly by laser welding and microsurgical suturing, and more effective, especially in delayed repair.

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