Novel technique for repair of severed peripheral nerves in rats using polyurea crosslinked silica aerogel scaffold


Purpose/Aim: To design, synthesize, and test in vivo an aerogel-based top-open peripheral nerve scaffold to simultaneously support and guide multiple completely severed peripheral nerves in a rat model. Also, to explore options for immobilizing severed nerves on the aerogel material without the use of sutures resulting in reduced surgical time. Materials and Method: A novel material and approach was developed for the reattachment of severed peripheral nerves. Nerve confinement and alignment in this case relies on the surface properties of a lightweight, highly porous, polyurea crosslinked silica aerogel scaffold. The distal and proximal ends of completely transected nerve terminals were positioned inside prefabricated "top-open" corrugated channels that cradled approximately two thirds of the circumference of the nerve trunk and connectivity of the severed nerves was evaluated using sciatic function index (SFI) technique for five months post-surgery on 10 female Sprague-Dawley rats then compared with the gold standard for peripheral nerve repair. The interaction of nerves with the surface of the scaffold was investigated also. Results and Conclusion: Multichannel aerogel-based nerve support scaffold showed similar SFI recovery trend as the case suture repair technique. Usage of an adhesion-promoting coating reduced the friction between the nerve and the scaffold leading to slippage and lack of attachment between nerve and surface. The aerogel scaffold used in this study did not collapse under pressure during the incubation period and allowed for a rapid and non-invasive peripheral nerve repair approach without the demands of microsurgery on both time and surgical expertise. This technique may allow for simultaneous repair and reconnection of multiple severed nerves particularly relevant to nerve branching sites. © 2014 Informa Healthcare USA, Inc.

Publication Title

Journal of Investigative Surgery