Purpose: The goal of this study was to assess subjective patient recovery of donor site sensory deficit following sural nerve harvest for trigeminal nerve repair surgery.
Patients and methods: A review of 42 consecutive sural nerve graft patient records yielded 26 patients, at least 20 months following sural nerve grafting for trigeminal nerve repair, who participated in a telephone questionnaire survey to assess subjective outcomes. The association between donor site outcome and other factors, including nerve graft recovery, age, gender, pain, cold sensitivity, scar cosmesis and tactile sensitivity, and legal involvement were analyzed, and presurgical and present levels of donor and nerve graft site sensibility were compared.
Results: The perceived area of donor site sensory deficit decreased significantly over time. Postoperative donor site pain and cold sensitivity at low levels were reported by few patients, and the majority have completely resolved. Most patients reported no problems with scar cosmesis or pain. There was a moderate agreement between donor site recovery and nerve graft recovery (kappa = 0.32). Few patients reported satisfaction with one site and not the other or complete dissatisfaction with both sites. Other factors such as age, gender, or legal involvement were not found to correlate with satisfaction level.
Conclusions: The use of a questionnaire for subjective assessment of neurosensory recovery following nerve graft repair yields outcomes information that is generally not considered in the traditional clinical patient assessment. The majority of patients tolerate sural nerve harvest without significant donor site morbidity.