Purpose: The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effects of low-level laser (LLL) irradiation on neural regeneration in surgically created defects in the rabbit inferior alveolar nerve.
Study design: Five adult female New Zealand White rabbits underwent bilateral exposure of the inferior alveolar nerve. A 6-mm segment of nerve was resected, and the nerve gap was repaired via entubulation by using a Gore-Tex conduit. The experimental side received 10 postoperative LLL treatments with a 70-mW gallium-aluminum-arsenide diode at 4 sites per treatment. At 15 weeks after surgery, the nerve segments were harvested bilaterally and prepared for light microscopy. Basic fuchsin and toluidine blue were used to highlight myelinated axons. The segments were examined histomorphometrically by using computer analysis to determine mean axonal diameter, total fascicular surface area, and axonal density along the repair sites.
Results: Gross examination of all nerves showed intact neural bundles with variable degrees of osseous remodeling. Light microscopic evaluation revealed organized regenerated neural tissue in both groups with more intrafascicular perineural tissue in the control group. Histomorphometric evaluation revealed increased axonal density in the laser treated group as compared with the control.
Conclusions: LLL irradiation may be a useful noninvasive adjunct to promote neuronal wound healing in surgically created defects repaired with expanded polytetrafluoroethylene entubulation.