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Br J Plast Surg. 1999 Dec;52(8):653-7.

A resorbable nerve conduit as an alternative to nerve autograft in nerve gap repair.

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Blond McIndoe Centre, East Grinstead, UK.


Poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) occurs within bacterial cytoplasm as granules and is available as bioabsorbable sheets. Previously, the advantage of PHB in primary repair has been investigated while in this study the same material has been used to bridge an irreducible gap. The aim was to assess the level of regeneration in PHB conduits compared to nerve autografts. The rat sciatic nerve was exposed, a 10 mm nerve segment was resected and bridged with either an autologous nerve graft or a PHB conduit. The grafted segments were harvested up to 30 days. Immunohistochemical staining was performed and computerised quantification of penetration distance and volume of axonal regeneration was estimated by protein gene product (PGP) immunostaining and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) positive fibres. Penetration and proliferation density of Schwann cells into the conduit was measured by quantifying S-100 staining. The inflammatory response was quantified with ED-1 staining for macrophages. Antibodies to vWf provided an assessment of angiogenesis and capillary infiltration. Percentage immunostaining for PGP in autograft and PHB groups showed a progressive increase up to 30 days with a significant linear trend with time and an increase in the volume of axonal regeneration. A similar pattern of progressive increase with time was observed with CGRP immunostaining for both groups and with S-100 in the PHB group. Good angiogenesis was present at the nerve ends and through the walls of the conduit. The results demonstrate good nerve regeneration in PHB conduits in comparison with nerve grafts.

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