Purpose: Intraosseous repair of nerves involves difficulty of access and there is concern that bone healing may interfere with repair outcomes. The present report describes the effect of 3 separate repair techniques on recovery from section of the rat intraosseous inferior alveolar nerve, with reference to the mental nerve distal and the trigeminal ganglion proximal to the nerve section.
Materials and methods: Unilateral exposure of the inferior alveolar nerves of 28 rats was achieved through bone windows. Nerves were sectioned and rats were assigned to 1 of 4 groups ( n = 7): untreated controls, microsuture repair, interpositional nerve grafts from the femoral nerve, or laser solder weld repair. Animals were sacrificed 1 year after surgery for histologic evaluation of the mental nerve, inferior alveolar nerve, and trigeminal ganglion compared with unoperated contralateral nerves.
Results: Compared with the unoperated contralateral nerves, nerve section substantially decreased mental nerve fiber number, mental nerve myelination, mental nerve fiber diameter, inferior alveolarnerve vascularity, trigeminal neuron number, and trigeminal neuron horseradish peroxidase tracer uptake and increased trigeminal ganglion degenerate neurons ( P = .001). All 3 forms of repair substantially decreased these effects ( P = .05). Interpositional nerve graft was least effective ( P = .05). Nonetheless, mental nerve fiber diameter was significantly decreased compared with unsectioned nerves after microsuture and laser solder weld repair ( P = .05).
Conclusions: Intraosseous repair of the inferior alveolar nerve decreases peripheral and central signs of degeneration. Clinical hyperesthesia after repair may reflect a predominance of small fibers after recovery.
Conflict of interest: None declared.