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Study Finds New Nerve Repair Technique Promising

Update Date: Aug 09, 2014 02:10 PM EDT

Researchers at University of Kentucky have found that a new nerve repair technique yields better results and has fewer side effects than other existing techniques. 

Traumatic nerve injuries are common. When nerves are severed, they do not heal on their own and the only way to repair them is through surgery. Further, the injuries that are not clean-cut, i.e., saw injuries, farm equipment injuries and gunshot wounds,  may result in a gap in the nerve. 

To fill these gaps, surgeons use two methods: a nerve autograft and nerve conduits. Nerve autograft is bridging the gap with a patient's own nerve taken from elsewhere in the body, but this can lead to a nerve deficit at the donor site. Nerve conduits can cause foreign body reactions or infections. 

Researchers compared the nerve conduit with a newer technique called a nerve allograft, which uses human nerves harvested from cadavers. 

Findings of the study suggested that the newer technique, nerve allografts had more consistent results and produced better outcomes than nerve conduits. 

"Nerve grafting has remained relatively unchanged for nearly 100 years, and both of the existing nerve repair options had serious drawbacks," UK Medical Director of Hand Surgery Service Dr. Brian Rinker said in the press release. 

"Our study showed that the new technique processed nerve allograft - provides a better, more predictable and safer nerve gap repair compared to the previous techniques."

Findings of the study were presented at the Annual Combined Meeting of the American Association for Hand Surgery. 

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