The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of wrapping bioabsorbable nerve conduit around primary suture repair on motor nerve regeneration in a rat model. Forty rats were randomly divided into two experimental groups according to the type of repair of the rat sciatic nerve: group I had primary suture repair; group II had primary suture repair and bioabsorbable collagen nerve conduit (NeuraGen® 1.5 mm, Integra LifeSciences Corp., Plainsboro, NJ) wrapped around the repair. At 12 weeks, no significant differences in the percentage of recovery between the two groups were observed with respect to compound muscle action potentials, isometric muscle force, and muscle weight (P = 0.816, P = 0.698, P = 0.861, respectively). Histomorphometric analysis as compared to the non-operative sites was also not significantly different between the two groups in terms of number of myelinated axons, myelinated fiber area, and nerve fiber density (P = 0.368, P = 0.968, P = 0.071, respectively). Perineural scar tissue formation was greater in primary suture repair group (0.36 ± 0.15) than in primary repair plus conduit wrapping group (0.17 ± 0.08). This difference was statistically significant (P < 0.001). Wrapping bioabsorbable nerve conduit around primary nerve repair can decrease perineural scar tissue formation. Although the scar-decreasing effect of bioabsorbable nerve wrap does not translate into better motor nerve recovery in this study, it might have an effect on the functional outcome in humans where scar formation is much more evident than in rats.
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