The Effect of Autologous Fat Graft with Different Surgical Repair Methods on Nerve Regeneration in a Rat Sciatic Nerve Defect Model

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The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of autologous fat graft with different surgical repair methods on reconstruction of a 10-mm-long rat sciatic nerve defect model.


One hundred forty-four sciatic nerves were operated on in 72 Wistar rats. The right limbs were assigned as group A (n = 72) and the left limbs as group B (n = 72). In group B, autologous fat graft was added to the surgical area so as to stay in contact with the coaptation site. Nerve regeneration was evaluated by walking track analysis, Sciatic Functional Index, pin-prick, and electrophysiologic and histologic tests at commencement and at 4 and 12 weeks after the operation.


The rats receiving fat graft showed better regeneration, but the difference was only significant according to Sciatic Functional Index and pin-prick test (p < 0.05). Primary repair, autogenous nerve graft, acellularized nerve graft, vein filled with fresh and denatured muscle graft subgroups in group B showed significantly better regeneration than those in group A according to the Sciatic Functional Index (p < 0.05). In terms of latency and amplitude, all subgroups in groups A and B were found significantly different from the commencement of the study, but there was no difference between groups A and B (p < 0.05).


Although there was no significant difference between the groups, rats receiving autologous fat graft showed better regeneration. Combined use of autologous fat graft with surgical repair methods induced significantly better regeneration. It was concluded that autologous fat grafting may have a beneficial effect on nerve regeneration when it is present in the coaptation site during healing.

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