University College London Institute of Orthopaedic and Musculoskeletal Sciences, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore, Middlesex, HA7 4LP, UK
End-to-end suture of nerves and autologous nerve grafts are the ‘gold standard’ for repair and reconstruction of peripheral nerves. However, techniques such as sutureless nerve repair with tissue glues, end-to-side nerve repair and allografts exist as alternatives. Biological and synthetic nerve conduits have had some success in early clinical studies on reconstruction of nerve defects in the hand. The effectiveness of nerve regeneration could potentially be increased by using these nerve conduits as scaffolds for delivery of Schwann cells, stem cells, neurotrophic and neurotropic factors or extracellular matrix proteins. There has been extensive in vitro and in vivo research conducted on these techniques. The clinical applicability and efficacy of these techniques needs to be investigated fully.
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