An Evaluation of Different Bridging Techniques for Short Nerve Gaps

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Abstract

Background

In this study, we investigated sensory and motor outcomes for different bridging techniques for short nerve gaps.

Material and Methods

This study was conducted in the Postdoctoral Department of Burns, Plastic, and Reconstructive Surgery of our institution from August 2014 to May 2017. All patients with posttraumatic short nerve gaps of 3 cm or less of median, ulnar, and/or both in forearm and wrists were included in the study. Patients with known causes of neuropathies were excluded. Groups 1, 2, 3, and 4 included 9 patients each, and the nerve gap was managed with reverse sural nerve autograft, inside-out vein conduit autograft, reverse sural nerve with covering inside-out vein autograft, and inside-out great saphenous vein autograft filled with denervated gastrocnemius skeletal muscle autograft, respectively. All the patients were followed-up and examined for sensory and motor recovery with a 2-point discrimination test (2PD) at finger tips in the distribution of reconstructed nerves and medical research council scale (MRCS) for muscle power innervated by the reconstructed nerves. The 2PD and MRCS muscles were compared between the groups using SPSS version 23 through 1-way analysis of variance.

Results

All the patients in each group recovered either completely or partially. The 2PD and MRCS muscle power means were compared between the groups. On comparing the mean 2PD and mean MRCS muscle power were compared between the groups using 1-way analysis of variance test. All the groups have been found statistically comparable in spite of the apparent clinical difference.

Conclusions

Although the nerve autograft is the criterion standard for managing the nerve gaps, the vein conduit is a viable alternative to nerve autograft for bridging the nerve gaps 3 cm or less, whereas filled conduit needs more study. However, more patients need to be studied to complete a relevant statistical study.

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