Histological and physiological basis of the therapeutic efficacy of the vascularized autologous nerve graft in facial nerve regeneration remains poorly understood because of no established rat model. The left median nerve and median artery/vein of Lewis rats were collectively ligated, and harvested as a vascularized island median nerve, which was transplanted to a 7-mm gap in the left buccal branch of facial nerve. Nerve regeneration was investigated. The numbers of myelinated fibers, axon diameter, and myelin thickness were significantly higher in the vascularized nerve graft group than in the nonvascularized nerve graft group. Compound muscle action potential measurement showed that the parameters of vascularized group were similar to those in the intact control group. A vascularized median nerve graft resulted in better facial nerve regeneration outcomes.
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