Morphometric Study of Regeneration through Vascularized Nerve Graft in a Rabbit Sciatic Nerve Model
Kwan Chul Tark ; Tai Suk Roh
Journal of Reconstructive Microsurgery, Vol.17(2) : 109~114, 2001
Journal of Reconstructive Microsurgery
Adequate vascularization is essential for a successful nerve graft. Theoretically, immediate vascularization will minimize fibroblast infiltration and support axonal regeneration. In this study, histomorphologic and morphometric studies were carried out to determine whether vascularized grafts are beneficial, in terms of axonal regeneration. In a rabbit model, 4-cm segments of sciatic nerve were obtained and placed as a nonvascularized graft on one side, and as a pedicled vascularized graft fed by the inferior gluteal vessel on the contralateral side. Histomorphologically, the distribution of myelinated nerve fibers and Schwann cells was evaluated after toluidine blue staining, at 2-, 3-, and 4-month intervals. The following results were obtained. 1) Myelinated nerve fibers were more abundant in the proximal, middle, and distal segments of the vascularized nerve group at 2 and 3 months. 2) The average nerve-fiber diameter was greater in the vascularized nerve graft group at 2, 3, and 4 months (2 to 10 microm). 3) Schwann cells were more abundant in the proximal, middle, and distal segments of the vascularized nerve graft group at all time points. Based on the above findings, the immediate restoration of circulation in the vascularized nerve graft can be accountable for the increased number of surviving Schwann cells, the rapid clearing of axons, and myelin-sheath changes that occur during Wallerian degeneration, thus enabling "morphologically" optimal regeneration.