Experimental and clinical employment of end-to-side coaptation: our experience.
ABSTRACT The last 15 years have seen a growing interest regarding a technique for nerve repair named end-to-side coaptation. Since 2000, we have carried out experimental studies on end-to-side nerve repair as well as employed this technique to a series of selected clinical cases. Here we report on the results of this experience.For experimental studies, we have used the model represented by median nerve repair by end-to-side coaptation either on the ulnar (agonistic) or the radial (antagonistic) nerve. For time course assessment of median nerve functional recovery we used the grasping test, a test which permits to assess voluntary control of muscle function. Repaired nerves were processed for resin embedding to allow nerve fibre stereology and electron microscopy. Results showed that, in either experimental group, end-to-side-repaired median nerves were repopulated by axons regenerating from ulnar and radial donor nerves, respectively. Moreover, contrary to previously published data, our results showed that voluntary motor control of the muscles innervated by the median nerve was progressively recovered also when the antagonistic radial nerve was the donor nerve.As regards our clinical experience, results were not so positive. We have treated by end-to-side coaptation patients with both sensory (n = 7, collateral digital nerves) and mixed (n = 8, plexus level) nerve lesions. Results were good, as in other series, in sensory nerves whilst they were very difficult to investigate in mixed nerves at the plexus level.Take together, these results suggest that clinical employment of end-to-side coaptation should still be considered at the moment as the ultima ratio in cases in which no other repair technique can be attempted. Yet, it is clear that more basic research is needed to explain the reasons for the different results between laboratory animal and humans and, especially, to find out how to ameliorate the outcome of end-to-side nerve repair by adequate treatment and rehabilitation.
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ABSTRACT: Nowadays new techniques may help the surgeon in difficult cases of nerve tissue loss: when a gap is produced in a mixed nerve, the use of conduits can be an alternative to nerve grafts, which still represent the "gold standard" for this kind of lesions. We have applied biologic conduits (muscle inside a vein) in more than 40 cases since 1993 with 85% of good functional results for both sensory and mixed nerves up to 5 cm. The advantages of this technique are: (1) all graft material is easily withdrawn in the lesion area and thus is not necessary to perform any new incision; (2) the possibility of reconstructing nerve gaps up to 5 cm avoids secondary damage created by the withdrawal of healthy nerves; (3) the possibility for spontaneous orientation of regenerating nerve fibers is offered as fibers are allowed to search for their final target (chemiotropism). Furthermore, when the tissue loss is important or the proximal nerve stump is not available, so jeopardizing the possibility of recovery with traditional reconstruction, the use of end-to-side neurorrhaphy has been described to solve the problem. However the use of end-to-side neurorrhaphy in the clinical setting for motor recovery remains controversial. In our experience we had satisfying results only in 20% of cases and thus motor reconstruction in the absence of an available proximal nerve may be best handled by nerve to nerve transfers. By contrast we had good results in sensory nerve reconstruction (especially digital nerves) by end-to-side coaptation.Acta neurochirurgica. Supplement 02/2007; 100:43-50.
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ABSTRACT: Over the last five years, we have used the rat forelimb model for investigating neuromuscular recovery after microsurgical nerve reconstruction of median and ulnar nerves by end-to-side neurorrhaphy and muscle-vein-combined tubulization (using both straight and Y-shaped guides). The outcome of nerve repair at different postoperative times was assessed by functional, morphological and biomolecular analysis. Results showed that both end-to-side and tubulization repair of rat median and ulnar nerves led to successful axonal regeneration along the severed nerve trunk as well as to a partial recovery of the lost function as assessed by grasping test. Biomolecular analysis by means of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) demonstrated early overexpression during nerve regeneration of the gliotrophic factor NRG1 and two of its receptors: erbB2 and erbB3. Finally, our experience also suggests that the rat forelimb experimental model is particularly appropriate for the study of microsurgical reconstruction of major mixed nerve trunks. Furthermore, since the forelimb model is less compromising for the animal, it should be preferred to the hindlimb model for many research purposes.Acta neurochirurgica. Supplement 02/2007; 100:173-7.
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ABSTRACT: The authors present the long-term results of nerve grafting and neurotization procedures in their group of patients with brachial plexus injuries and compare the results of "classic" methods of nerve repair with those of end-to-side neurorrhaphy. Between 1994 and 2006, direct repair (nerve grafting), neurotization, and end-to-side neurorrhaphy were performed in 168 patients, 95 of whom were followed up for at least 2 years after surgery. Successful results were achieved in 79% of cases after direct repair and in 56% of cases after end-to-end neurotization. The results of neurotization depended on the type of the donor nerve used. In patients who underwent neurotization of the axillary and the musculocutaneous nerves, the use of intraplexal nerves (motor branches of the brachial plexus) as donors of motor fibers was associated with a significantly higher success rate than the use of extraplexal nerves (81% compared with 49%, respectively, p = 0.003). Because of poor functional results of axillary nerve neurotization using extraplexal nerves (success rate 47.4%), the authors used end-to-side neurorrhaphy in 14 cases of incomplete avulsion. The success rate for end-to-side neurorrhaphy using the axillary nerve as a recipient was 64.3%, similar to that for neurotization using intraplexal nerves (68.4%) and better than that achieved using extraplexal nerves (47.4%, p = 0.19). End-to-side neurorrhaphy offers an advantage over classic neurotization in not requiring sacrifice of any of the surrounding nerves or the fascicles of the ulnar nerve. Typical synkinesis of muscle contraction innervated by the recipient nerve with contraction of muscles innervated by the donor was observed in patients after end-to-side neurorrhaphy.Journal of Neurosurgery 04/2007; 106(3):391-9. · 3.15 Impact Factor