Object: Facial nerve paralysis due to a surgical procedure or trauma is a frequently observed complication. The authors evaluated facial nerve repair achieved by the interposition of a collagen nerve guide.
Methods: Ten cats were divided into three groups. Group 1 consisted of six animals in which a 5-mm facial nerve segment on one side was resected and replaced by a collagen tube that was sutured to bridge both nerve stumps. On the opposite side a 5-mm segment of facial nerve was resected, reversed 180 degrees, and sutured to the stumps as an autograft nerve. Group 2 consisted of two cats in which the collagen nerve guide was interposed on one side and the nerve on the other side was left intact. Group 3 consisted of two cats in which a reversed autograft nerve was placed on one side and the nerve on the other side was left intact. Histological, electrophysiological, and horseradish peroxidase labeling examinations were performed starting 3 weeks after surgery. Light and electron microscopic examinations of collagen tube-implanted specimens revealed a well-vascularized regenerated nerve. The electrophysiological study confirmed the recovery of electrical activity in regenerated axons. Horseradish peroxidase labeling also confirmed restoration of the whole facial nerve tract.
Conclusions: The collagen nerve guide shows great promise as a nerve conduit.