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J Hand Surg Am. 1993 May;18(3):417-25.

The nerve gap dilemma: a comparison of nerves repaired end to end under tension with nerve grafts in a primate model.

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  • 1Stanford University Medical Center, Calif.


The objective of this study was to compare, in a clinically relevant primate model, axon regeneration after epineurial repair under tension (15 mm gap) with interfascicular nerve grafts with the use of either standard microsuture techniques or a new interfascicular nerve graft technique termed fascicular tubulization that uses a hypoantigenic collagen membrane formed into a tube to approximate nerve ends. Electrophysiologic analysis demonstrated that the percentage of proximal axons that conducted across the repair site was greater in those nerves repaired under tension with epineurially placed sutures than in either of the tensionless repairs involving interfascicular graft techniques. The mean diameters of the regenerated axons repaired under tension with epineurial sutures were greater than those of the nerves repaired with interfascicular grafts, although the difference was not statistically significant. Interfascicular nerve grafting with tubulization using the current collagen tube resulted in regeneration equal to the sutured interfascicular nerve grafts. For modest defects (perhaps up to 3 to 4 cm in the adult), it seems advantageous to accept the modest tension associated with an epineurial repair rather than to use an autograft (or artificial graft) to achieve a tension-free repair.

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