Rodent facial nerve recovery after selected lesions and repair techniques

Tessa A. Hadlock, Jeffrey Kowaleski, David Lo, Susan E. MacKinnon, James T. Heaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Measuring rodent facial movements is a reliable method for studying recovery from facial nerve manipulation and for examining the behavioral correlates of aberrant regeneration. The authors quantitatively compared recovery of vibrissal and ocular function following three types of clinically relevant nerve injury. Methods: One hundred seventy-eight adult rats underwent facial nerve manipulation and testing. In the experimental groups, the left facial nerve was either crushed, transected, and repaired epineurially, or transected and the stumps suture-secured into a tube with a 2-mm gap between them. Facial recovery was measured for the ensuing 1 to 4 months. Data were analyzed for whisking recovery. Previously developed markers of co-contraction of the upper and midfacial zones (possible synkinesis markers) were also examined. Results: Animals in the crush groups recovered nearly normal whisking parameters within 25 days. The distal branch crush group showed improved recovery over the main trunk crush group for several days during early recovery. By week 9, the transection/repair groups showed evidence of recovery that trended further upward throughout the study period. The entubulation groups followed a similar recovery pattern, although they did not maintain significant recovery levels by the study conclusion. Markers of potential synkinesis increased in selected groups following facial nerve injury. Conclusions: Rodent vibrissal function recovers in a predictable fashion following manipulation. Generalized co-contraction of the upper and midfacial zones emerges following facial nerve manipulation, possibly related to aberrant regeneration, polyterminal axons, or hypersensitivity of the rodent to sensory stimuli following nerve manipulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-109
Number of pages11
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Volume125
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2010

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