Processed nerve allografts offer a promising alternative to nerve autografts in the surgical management of peripheral nerve injuries where short deficits exist.
Three established models of acellular nerve allograft (cold-preserved, detergent-processed, and AxoGen-processed nerve allografts) were compared with nerve isografts and silicone nerve guidance conduits in a 14-mm rat sciatic nerve defect.
All acellular nerve grafts were superior to silicone nerve conduits in support of nerve regeneration. Detergent-processed allografts were similar to isografts at 6 weeks postoperatively, whereas AxoGen-processed and cold-preserved allografts supported significantly fewer regenerating nerve fibers. Measurement of muscle force confirmed that detergent-processed allografts promoted isograft-equivalent levels of motor recovery 16 weeks postoperatively. All acellular allografts promoted greater amounts of motor recovery compared with silicone conduits.
These findings provide evidence that differential processing for removal of cellular constituents in preparing acellular nerve allografts affects recovery in vivo.