Enhancement of Nerve Regeneration and Orientation across a Gap with a Nerve Graft within a Vein Conduit Graft: A Functional, Stereological, and Electrophysiological Study

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In this study, the right sciatic nerves of 40 rats were used to determine whether a nerve graft within a vein graft might accelerate and facilitate axonal regeneration, compared with a nerve graft alone. The animals were separated into four groups, as follows: group 1, sham control; group 2 (control), segmental nerve resection and no repair; group 3, segmental nerve resection and nerve grafting; group 4, segmental nerve resection and reconstruction with a nerve graft within a vein conduit graft. For all groups, sciatic functional indices were calculated before the operation and on postoperative days 7 and 90. On postoperative day 90, the sciatic nerves were reexposed and nerve conduction velocities were recorded. The sciatic nerves were harvested from all groups for counting of the myelinated axons with a stereological method. No statistically significant differences with respect to return of gait function, axon count, or nerve conduction were noted between groups 3 and 4 (p > 0.05). However, functional recovery in group 4 on postoperative day 90 was significant, compared with group 2 (p < 0.05); the recovery difference between groups 2 and 3 was not significant (p > 0.05). This study was not able to demonstrate any functional benefits with the use of a nerve graft within a vein graft, compared with standard nerve grafting.

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