Background: Scar tissue formation is the major cause of failure in peripheral nerve surgery. Use of a hyaluronic acid-carboxymethylcellulose (HA-CMC) membrane (Seprafilm) as a solid anti-adhesion barrier agent is one of the therapeutic approaches to reduce postoperative scar tissue formation. However, a solid membrane may not be suitable for repair of a weak peripheral nerve site. This study examined the effect of HA-CMC solution on perineural scar formation after peripheral nerve repair in rats.
Methods: The sciatic nerves of 40 rats were transected and then immediately repaired using 10-0 nylon. The nerves were divided randomly into two groups. Saline and HA-CMC solution were applied topically to the nerve repair sites in the control and experimental groups, respectively. Reoperation was performed at 3, 6, 9, and 12 weeks to assess scar tissue formation. The assessment included the quality of wound healing, presence of perinueral adhesion, cellular components of the scar tissue, thickness of the scar tissue and histomorphological organization of the repair site.
Results: Topical application of the HA-CMC solution significantly decreased the macroscopic nerve adherence score and the numbers of the cellular components such as fibroblasts and inflammatory cells (p < 0.05, Mann-Whitney U-test). The scar tissue formation index was significantly lower in the experimental group at 12 weeks than that in the control group (p < 0.05, Mann-Whitney U-test). The grading scores of the histomorphological axonal organization at the repair site were significantly higher in the experimental group than those in the control group at 12 weeks (p < 0.05, Mann-Whitney U-test). No evidence of wound dehiscence or inflammatory reactions against the HA-CMC solution was noted.
Conclusions: Topical application of a HA-CMC solution is effective in reducing the perineural scar formation and adhesion after sciatic nerve repair in rats, and is effective in promoting peripheral nerve regeneration at the repair site.
Keywords: Adhesion; Carboxymethylcellulose; Hyaluronic acid; Peripheral nerve; Scar formation.