Nicole Deal J Am Acad Orthop Surg February 2012 ; 20 Abstract
Advances in treating peripheral nerve lesions have resulted from research in nerve regeneration and the use biomaterials as well as synthetic materials. When direct tensionless repair of peripheral nerve lesions is not possible, nerve conduits may be used to bridge digital sensory nerve gaps of ≤3 cm. Nerve autograft is the benchmark for larger, longer, mixed, or motor nerve defects. Biologic, autogenous conduitstypically veins or, rarely, arterieshave demonstrated their utility in nerve gaps <3 cm in length. Three types of bioabsorbable conduit have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, constructed of collagen, polyglycolic acid, or caprolactone. Caprolactone conduits have been found to be equivalent in results to autograft. Collagen conduits are next best, and polyglycolic acid conduits are functionally inferior. Further research and prospective, multicenter, large-scale trials are needed to help establish the role of synthetic, bioabsorbable conduits in peripheral nerve reconstruction.