The Surgical Management of Nerve Gaps: Present and Future
Peripheral nerve injuries can result in significant morbidity, including motor and/or sensory loss, which can affect significantly the life of the patient. Nowadays, the gold standard for the treatment of nerve section is end-to-end neurorrhaphy. Unfortunately, in some cases, there is segmental loss of the nerve trunk. Nerve mobilization allows primary repair of the sectioned nerve by end-to-end neurorrhaphy if the gap is less than 1 cm. When the nerve gap exceeds 1 cm, autologous nerve grafting is the gold standard of treatment. To overcome the limited availability and the donor site morbidity, other techniques have been used: vascularized nerve grafts, cellular and acellular allografts, nerve conduits, nerve transfers, and end-to-side neurorrhaphy. The purpose of this review is to present an overview of the literature on the applications of these techniques in peripheral nerve repair. Furthermore, preoperative evaluation, timing of repair, and future perspectives are also discussed.