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Reconstructive Options for Inferior Alveolar and Lingual Nerve Injuries After Dental and Oral Surgery

An Evidence-Based Review

Ducic, Ivica, MD, PhD*†; Yoon, Joshua, MD

doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000001783
Peripheral Nerve Surgery and Research
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Purpose The investigators wanted to evaluate, analyze, and compare the current microsurgical repair modalities (primary repair, autograft, tube conduit, and allograft reconstruction) in achieving functional sensory recovery in inferior alveolar and lingual nerve reconstructions due to injury.

Methods A literature review was undertaken to identify studies focusing on microsurgical repair of inferior alveolar and lingual nerve injuries. Included studies provided a defined sample size, the reconstruction modality, and functional sensory recovery rates. A Fischer exact test analysis was performed with groups based on the nerve and repair type, which included subgroups of specific nerve gap reconstruction modalities.

Results Twelve studies were analyzed resulting in a sample consisting of 122 lingual nerve and 137 inferior alveolar nerve reconstructions. Among the nerve gap reconstructions for the lingual nerve, processed nerve allografts and autografts were found to be superior in achieving functional sensory recovery over the conduits with P values of 0.0001 and 0.0003, respectively. Among the nerve gap reconstructions for the inferior alveolar nerve, processed nerve allografts and autografts were also found to be superior in achieving functional sensory recovery over the conduits with P values of 0.027 and 0.026, respectively. Overall, nerve gap reconstructions with allografts and autografts for inferior alveolar and lingual nerve reconstruction were superior in achieving functional sensory recovery with a P value of <0.0001.

Conclusions The data analyzed in this study suggest that primary tension-free repair should be performed in inferior alveolar and lingual nerve reconstructions when possible. If a bridging material is to be used, then processed nerve allografts and autografts are both superior to conduits and noninferior to each other. In addition, allografts do not have the complications related to autograft harvesting such as permanent donor site morbidity. Based on the conclusions drawn from these data, we provide a reproducible operative technique for inferior alveolar and lingual nerve reconstruction.

From the *Washington Nerve Institute, McLean, VA; and

Department of Surgery, The George Washington University, Washington, DC.

Received July 25, 2018, and accepted for publication, after revision November 4, 2018.

Conflict of interest and sources of funding: Dr Ducic is the Medical Director of AxoGen Inc, while Dr Yoon has no industry affiliation. Authors received no funding or payments for this study. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Ivica Ducic, MD, PhD, Washington Nerve Institute, 7601 Lewinsville Rd, Suite 460, McLean, VA 22102. E-mail: dr.ducic@gmail.com.

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