Autologous nerve grafts are the current criterion standard for repair of peripheral nerve injuries when the transected nerve ends are not amenable to primary end-to-end tensionless neurorrhaphy. However, donor-site morbidities such as neuroma formation and permanent loss of function have led to tremendous interest in developing an alternative to this technique. Artificial nerve conduits have therefore emerged as an alternative to autologous nerve grafting for the repair of short peripheral nerve defects of less than 30 mm; however, they do not yet surpass autologous nerve grafts clinically. A thorough understanding of the complex biological reactions that take place during peripheral nerve regeneration will allow researchers to develop a nerve conduit with physical and biological properties similar to those of an autologous nerve graft that supports regeneration over long nerve gaps and in large-diameter nerves. In this article, the authors assess the currently available nerve conduits, summarize research in the field of developing these conduits, and establish areas within this field in which further research would prove most beneficial.
Coding Perspective for this article is on page 1427.
London, United Kingdom
From the Department of Plastic Surgery, Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust; and the Center for Nanotechnology, Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, Division of Surgical and Interventional Sciences, University College London.
Received for publication June 9, 2013; accepted November 11, 2013.
Disclosure: The authors have no financial interest in any of the products or devices mentioned in this article.
Amit Pabari, M.R.C.S., Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, London, United Kingdom, firstname.lastname@example.org