The purpose of this study was to evaluate the motor nerve recovery in a rabbit model after repair of a 3-cm gap in the peroneal nerve with a conduit filled with a collagen-GAG (glycosaminoglycan) matrix and compare the results with those after reconstruction with an autograft or an empty collagen conduit.Methods:
Forty-two male New Zealand rabbits were divided into three experimental groups. In each group, a unilateral 3-cm peroneal nerve defect was repaired with a nerve autograft, an empty collagen conduit, or a conduit filled with a collagen-GAG matrix. At six months, nerve regeneration was evaluated on the basis of the compound muscle action potentials, maximum isometric tetanic force, and wet muscle weight of the tibialis anterior muscle as well as nerve histomorphometry.Results:
The autograft group had significantly better motor recovery than the conduit groups. The empty collagen conduits and conduits filled with the collagen-GAG matrix led to results that were similar to each other.Conclusions:
On the basis of this rabbit model, autologous nerve grafting remains the gold standard in the reconstruction of 3-cm segmental motor nerve defects.Clinical Relevance:
Segmental motor nerve defects should be reconstructed with autograft nerves. The use of a collagen conduit filled with a collagen-GAG matrix for motor nerve reconstruction should be limited until additional animal studies are performed.