It is about 20 years that tubular nerve guides have been introduced into clinical practice as a reliable alternative to autograft, in gaps not-longer-than 20 mm, bringing the advantage of avoiding donor site sacrifice and morbidity. There are limitations in the application of tubular guides. First, tubular structure in itself makes surgical implantation difficult; second, stitch sutures required to secure the guide may represent a site of unfavorable fibroblastic reaction; third, maximum length and diameter of the guide correlate with the occurrence of a poorer central vascularization of regenerated nerve. We report on the in vivo testing of a new concept of nerve-guide (named NeuroBox) which is double-halved, not-degradable, rigid, and does not require any stitch to be held in place, employing acrylate glue instead. Five male Wistar rats had the new guide implanted in a 4-mm sciatic nerve defect; two guides incorporated a surface constituted of microtrenches aligned longitudinally. Further five rats had the 4-mm gap left without repair. Contralateral intact nerves were used as controls. After 2 months, nerve regeneration occurred in all animals treated by the NeuroBox; fine blood vessels were well represented. There was no regeneration in the un-treated animals. Even if the limited number of animals does not allow to draw definitive conclusions, some result can be highlighted: an easy surgical technique was associated with the box-shaped guide and acrylate glue was easily applied; an adequate intraneural vascularization was found concurrently with the regeneration of the nerve and no adverse fibroblastic proliferation was present.
(c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.