A Comparison Between Two Collagen Nerve Conduits and Nerve Autograft: A Rat Model of Motor Nerve Regeneration

J Hand Surg Am. 2019 Aug;44(8):700.e1-700.e9. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2018.10.008. Epub 2018 Nov 27.


Purpose: To compare recovery in a rat model of sciatic nerve injury using a novel polyglycolic acid (PGA) conduit, which contains collagen fibers within the tube, as compared with both a hollow collagen conduit and nerve autograft. We hypothesize that a conduit with a scaffold will provide improved nerve regeneration over hollow conduits and demonstrate no significant differences when compared with autograft.

Methods: A total of 72 Sprague-Dawley rats were randomized into 3 experimental groups, in which a unilateral 10-mm sciatic defect was repaired using either nerve autograft, a hollow collagen conduit, or a PGA collagen-filled conduit. Outcomes were measured at 12 and 16 weeks after surgery, and included bilateral tibialis anterior muscle weight, voltage and force maximal contractility, assessment of ankle contracture, and nerve histology.

Results: In all groups, outcomes improved between 12 and 16 weeks. On average, the autograft group outperformed both conduit groups, and the hollow conduit demonstrated improved outcomes when compared with the PGA collagen-filled conduit. Differences in contractile force, however, were significant only at 12 weeks (autograft > hollow collagen conduit > PGA collagen-filled conduit). At 16 weeks, contractile force demonstrated no significant difference but corroborated the same absolute results (autograft > hollow collagen conduit > PGA collagen-filled conduit).

Conclusions: Nerve repair using autograft provided superior motor nerve recovery over the 2 conduits for a 10-mm nerve gap in a murine acute transection injury model. The hollow collagen conduit demonstrated superior results when compared with the PGA collagen-filled conduit.

Clinical relevance: The use of a hollow collagen conduit provides superior motor nerve recovery as compared with a PGA collagen-filled conduit.

Keywords: Collagen; conduit; denervation; rat; reinnervation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autografts
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Collagen*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Male
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Polyglycolic Acid*
  • Prostheses and Implants*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sciatic Nerve / injuries*
  • Sciatic Nerve / surgery*


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Polyglycolic Acid
  • Collagen