Effect of nerve graft porosity on the refractory period of regenerating nerve fibers: Laboratory investigation

Carmen L.A.M. Vleggeert-Lankamp, Jasper Wolfs, Ana Paula Pêgo, Rutgeris van den Berg, Hans Feirabend, Egbert Lakke

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    Object: In the present study the authors consider the influence of the porosity of synthetic nerve grafts on peripheral nerve regeneration.

    Methods: Microporous (1-13 μm) and nonporous nerve grafts made of a copolymer of trimethylene carbonate and ε-caprolactone were tested in an animal model. Twelve weeks after surgery, nerve and muscle morphological and electrophysiological results of regenerated nerves that had grown through the synthetic nerve grafts were compared with autografted and untreated (control) sciatic nerves. Based on the observed changes in the number and diameter of the nerve fibers, the predicted values of the electrophysiological parameters were calculated.

    Results: The values of the morphometric parameters of the peroneal nerves and the gastrocnemius and anterior tibial muscles were similar if not equal in the rats receiving synthetic nerve grafts. The refractory periods, however, were shorter in porous compared with nonporous grafted nerves, and thus were closer to control values.

    Conclusions: A shorter refractory period enables the axon to follow the firing frequency of the neuron more effectively and allows a more adequate target organ stimulation. Therefore, porous are preferred over nonporous nerve grafts.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)294-305
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Neurosurgery
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2008


    • Electrophysiological study
    • Ion channel
    • Muscle morphology
    • Nerve graft porosity
    • Nerve regeneration
    • Rat
    • Synthetic nerve graft


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