In the clinical management of combined tendon and nerve injuries, competing treatment strategies are well known. The effect of mobilization
on the functional regeneration of peripheral nerves remains controversial. This study sought to determine the effect of full range of motion mobilization
on nerve repair by using tubular segmental nerve splinting to block movement, and thereby variable tension
, at the nerve repair site.
In 96 rats, the right sciatic nerve was transected midthigh and coapted immediately microsurgically. The groups used in the study were as follows: group N, epineural nerve repair; group T, segmental tubular nerve splinting with fixed in situ tension
at the nerve suture site, allowing segmental movement only; group TN, segmental tubular nerve splinting with alleviated in situ tension
at the nerve suture site, allowing segmental movement only; and group TM, segmental tubular nerve splinting without fixed in situ tension
at the nerve suture site, allowing movement of the nerve suture site. Full range of motion of the lower limbs was ensured by passive motion of hind limbs once a week after functional testing. Blinded histologic, immunohistochemical, and electrophysiologic assessment and 12 postoperative weekly function tests were carried out.
Functional and electrophysiologic results were significantly better in group TN, by segmental tubular nerve splinting with alleviated in situ tension
at the nerve repair site, mainly because of less scar formation and enhanced endoneural angiogenesis at the nerve suture segment.
Full range of motion mobilization
may impede functional nerve recovery by significant endoneural collagenization and decreased angiogenesis at the nerve suture segment. Complete alleviation of in situ (pathophysiologic) tension
at the nerve suture site seems to improve functional peripheral nerve regeneration