A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies comparing muscle-in-vein conduits with autologous nerve grafts for nerve reconstruction

Sci Rep. 2021 Jun 3;11(1):11691. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-90956-3.


The gold-standard method for reconstruction of segmental nerve defects, the autologous nerve graft, has several drawbacks in terms of tissue availability and donor site morbidity. Therefore, feasible alternatives to autologous nerve grafts are sought. Muscle-in-vein conduits have been proposed as an alternative to autologous nerve grafts almost three decades ago, given the abundance of both tissues throughout the body. Based on the anti-inflammatory effects of veins and the proregenerative environment established by muscle tissue, this approach has been studied in various preclinical and some clinical trials. There is still no comprehensive systematic summary to conclude efficacy and feasibility of muscle-in-vein conduits for reconstruction of segmental nerve defects. Given this lack of a conclusive summary, we performed a meta-analysis to evaluate the potential of muscle-in-vein conduits. This work's main findings are profound discrepancies regarding the results following nerve repair by means of muscle-in-vein conduits in a preclinical or clinical setting. We identified differences in study methodology, inter-species neurobiology and the limited number of clinical studies to be the main reasons for the still inconclusive results. In conclusion, we advise for large animal studies to elucidate the feasibility of muscle-in-vein conduits for repair of segmental defects of critical size in mixed nerves.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Translational Research, Biomedical
  • Wounds and Injuries / physiopathology*