Chapter 8: Current Techniques and Concepts in Peripheral Nerve Repair

Int Rev Neurobiol. 2009;87:141-72. doi: 10.1016/S0074-7742(09)87008-6.


Despite the progress in understanding the pathophysiology of peripheral nervous system injury and regeneration, as well as advancements in microsurgical techniques, peripheral nerve injuries are still a major challenge for reconstructive surgeons. Thorough knowledge of anatomy, pathophysiology, and surgical reconstruction is a prerequisite of proper peripheral nerve injury management. This chapter reviews the currently available surgical treatment options for different types of nerve injuries in clinical conditions. In overview of direct nerve repair, various end-to-end coaptation techniques and the role of end-to-side repair for proximal nerve injuries is described. When primary repair cannot be performed without undue tension, nerve grafting or tubulization techniques are required. Current gold standard for bridging nerve gaps is nerve autografting. However, disadvantages of this approach, such as donor site morbidity and limited length of available graft material encouraged the search for alternative means of nerve gap reconstruction. Nerve allografting was introduced for repair of extensive nerve injuries. Tubulization techniques with natural or artificial conduits are applicable as an alternative for bridging short nerve defects without the morbidities associated with harvesting of autologous nerve grafts. Achieving better outcomes depends both on the advancements in microsurgical techniques and introduction of molecular biology discoveries into clinical practice. The field of peripheral nerve research is dynamically developing and concentrates on more sophisticated approaches tested at the basic science level. Future directions in peripheral nerve reconstruction including, tolerance induction and minimal immunosuppression for nerve allografting, cell based supportive therapies and bioengineering of nerve conduits are also reviewed in this chapter.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Nerve Regeneration
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods*
  • Peripheral Nerve Injuries
  • Peripheral Nerves / surgery*
  • Peripheral Nerves / transplantation*
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Scaffolds
  • Transplantation, Autologous / methods
  • Transplantation, Homologous / methods