Peripheral nerve revascularization: Histomorphometric study of small- and large-caliber grafts

Timothy J. Best, Susan E. Mackinnon, Peter J. Evans, Daniel Hunter, Rajiv Midha

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The revascularization of nerve grafts was investigated using histologic and morphometric techniques. Small-diameter nerve grafts (sciatic in the rat and sural in adult ewes) were studied, as was a large-diameter peroneal nerve graft in the ewe. Ninety-six hours after sciatic nerve engraftment, rats were injected with an intravascular fluorescent tracer. Evans blue albumin (EBA). Specimens were observed for the number of vessels perfused. Analysis showed no difference in vascular pattern between the grafted nerves and their control nerves, suggesting that spontaneous revascularization had occurred to establish a vascular tree essentially identical to the native nerve. Sural and peroneal nerve grafts were evaluated in adult ewes at 7 or 40 clays post- nerve grafting. Similar to the rat sciatic nerve, the small-diameter sural nerve grafts were completely revascularized, with an equal number of perfused vessels at both time periods, with respect to control specimens. In contrast, the larger-caliber peroneal nerve grafts were not perfused at 7 days, and very poorly perfused at 40 days. This correlated with scant neural regeneration at 40 days. The finding suggests that small-diameter nerve grafts spontaneously revascularize, and revascularization using microvascular techniques is not necessary. In contrast, the larger-diameter nerve graft did not revascularize well. Such a large-diameter nerve graft would provide a suitable model to investigate the potential merits of a vascularized nerve graft.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-190
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of reconstructive microsurgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 1999


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