Mechanical Function of Muscle Reinnervated by End-to-Side Neurorrhaphy

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End-to-side neurorrhaphy is a surgical technique for peripheral nerve reconstruction when end-to-end neurorrhaphy is not an option. To define the effectiveness of end-to-side neurorrhaphy as a method of nerve repair, the authors tested the null hypothesis: there is no difference in the mechanical function of skeletal muscle denervated and reinnervated by end-to-side versus end-to-end neurorrhaphy. Adult Lewis rats underwent either transection and end-to-end epineurial repair of the left peroneal nerve (n = 9) or end-to-side repair of the distal stump of the peroneal nerve to the side of the tibial nerve (n = 8). After a 6-month recovery period, isometric force (Fo) was measured, and specific force (sFo) was calculated for the extensor digitorum longus muscle of each animal. Immunohistochemical staining for neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) was performed to identify populations of denervated muscle fibers. The mean extensor digitorum longus muscle mass in the end-to-end group (195 ± 32 g) was significantly greater than that of the end-to-side group (146 ± 55 g) (p < 0.05). A significantly greater percentage of denervated fibers was identified in the extensor digitorum longus muscles of animals in the end-to-side group (9.4 ± 3.2 percent) than in those in the end-to-end group (3.8 ± 1.0 percent) (p < 0.05). Despite a lower muscle mass and a higher percentage of denervated fibers, neither Fo nor sFo was significantly different in the two groups. These data support the null hypothesis that, under appropriate circumstances, there is no difference in the recovery of whole muscle force and specific force production in muscles reinnervated by end-to-side versus endto-end neurorrhaphy. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 103: 1919, 1999.)

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