What is a Nerve Graft?

A nerve graft, also known as a nerve transplant, is a piece of nerve tissue used to bridge the gap between two ends of a damaged nerve. This procedure is used to repair peripheral nerves that have been damaged due to trauma, disease, or surgery. During the procedure, a small part of the sural nerve in the leg is removed and implanted at the site of repair. The goal of our nerve grafting in Denver is to restore function and sensation to the affected area.

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How do Nerve Grafts Work?

A nerve graft is a piece of your own nerve taken from a non-critical area of your body that is transplanted to repair a damaged nerve. After the transplant, the axons, or nerve fibers, from the damaged nerve will grow and join with the nerve graft. This helps develop a new nerve pathway, which will allow for sensation and function in the area again. It's important to note that recovery time can vary depending on the individual and other factors but following your doctor's instructions during recovery can help ensure the best possible outcome.

Types of Nerve Grafts

Nerve grafts can be classified based on their source as autografts or allografts. 

  • Autografts: these nerve grafts are taken from a sensory nerve that provides sensation to an area of skin where sensation is not critical. Autografts taken from the patient's body contain support cells that aid in nerve regeneration, called Schwann cells. These cells help to guide the regrowth of nerve fibers across the gap.
  • Allografts: this type of nerve graft is sourced from a cadaver, processed, and sterilized to ensure safety and avoid rejection.

Who can Benefit From Nerve Grafts?

Nerve grafting is an option for nerve damage repair if the injury is recent, and the gap between the two ends of the injured nerve is not too large. Also, if the injury has resulted in a gap that cannot be repaired by other means, such as a clean, sharp nerve injury like a cut, then a nerve graft may be necessary.

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Conditions Treated with Nerve Grafting

Nerve grafting may become necessary in cases of:

  • Injuries to a portion of a nerve due to stretch, crush, or sharp incidents (e.g., saw and propeller injuries)
  • Considerable scarring on a damaged nerve
  • Brachial plexus injury
  • Nerve tumors or cancers
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Which Nerves can be Used for Harvesting a Graft?

When it comes to choosing a donor nerve for a graft, multiple factors come into play, but the primary consideration is its function. Donor nerves that typically provide sensation to non-critical areas of the body are typically used. The sural nerve located in the back of the leg, providing sensitivity to parts of the lower leg and ankle, and the medial and lateral antebrachial cutaneous nerves located in the arm, providing sensation to parts of the forearm, are the most used donor nerves for nerve graft procedures.

What to Expect During Nerve Graft Surgery?

The steps for our nerve grafting in Denver differ depending on whether the graft is an autograft or an allograft. The surgeon will typically harvest the graft, identify the proximal and distal ends of the injured nerve, and suture the graft to the two ends of the nerve. The healing process can take several months, and physical therapy may be necessary to aid in the recovery process.

What is the Success Rate for Nerve Grafts?

The success rate for nerve grafts depends on several factors such as age, type of injury, and how well it was performed. Recovery time can vary depending on these factors as well as other individual factors such as overall health and lifestyle habits. It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions during recovery to maximize your chances for successful outcomes with this procedure.

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Why Choose Atlas Institute Peripheral Nerve Care?

If you are looking for premium peripheral nerve care Atlas Institute is the perfect choice. We have a state-of-the-art nerve center equipped with the latest technological advancements in diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Our focus is to deliver surgical and non-surgical solutions for nerve pain or dysfunction. Unlike other providers, we are down-to-earth and concentrate purely on the technical aspects of surgery and treatment. Our goal is to help patients live pain-free, have relief from nerve conditions, and return to normal functioning with pain dramatically reduced or fully gone. We take pride in providing advanced training in nerve-specific maladies, and we ensure a comprehensive approach by offering the full spectrum of treatment. Unlike many other medical practices, nerve care is not just a small part of our services but a centerpiece.

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