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Orthopedics. 2017 Jan 1;40(1):e141-e156. doi: 10.3928/01477447-20161019-01. Epub 2016 Oct 27.

The Present and Future for Peripheral Nerve Regeneration.


Peripheral nerve injury can have a potentially devastating impact on a patient's quality of life, resulting in severe disability with substantial social and personal cost. Refined microsurgical techniques, advances in peripheral nerve topography, and a better understanding of the pathophysiology and molecular basis of nerve injury have all led to a decisive leap forward in the field of translational neurophysiology. Nerve repair, nerve grafting, and nerve transfers have improved significantly with consistently better functional outcomes. Direct nerve repair with epineural microsutures is still the surgical treatment of choice when a tension-free coaptation in a well-vascularized bed can be achieved. In the presence of a significant gap (>2-3 cm) between the proximal and distal nerve stumps, primary end-to-end nerve repair often is not possible; in these cases, nerve grafting is the treatment of choice. Indications for nerve transfer include brachial plexus injuries, especially avulsion type, with long distance from target motor end plates, delayed presentation, segmental loss of nerve function, and broad zone of injury with dense scarring. Current experimental research in peripheral nerve regeneration aims to accelerate the process of regeneration using pharmacologic agents, bioengineering of sophisticated nerve conduits, pluripotent stem cells, and gene therapy. Several small molecules, peptides, hormones, neurotoxins, and growth factors have been studied to improve and accelerate nerve repair and regeneration by reducing neuronal death and promoting axonal outgrowth. Targeting specific steps in molecular pathways also allows for purposeful pharmacologic intervention, potentially leading to a better functional recovery after nerve injury. This article summarizes the principles of nerve repair and the current concepts of peripheral nerve regeneration research, as well as future perspectives. [Orthopedics. 2017; 40(1):e141-e156.].

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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