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Imaging nerve regeneration

Jan. 28, 2020, 8:00 AM

by Leigh MacMillan

When peripheral nerves are injured and surgically repaired, regeneration must occur in a timely fashion to restore sensory and motor function. Current methods for following nerve regeneration provide only limited information and may delay a needed second surgical intervention and lead to poor outcomes.

Richard Dortch, PhD, (Radiology and Radiological Sciences), Wes Thayer, MD, PhD, (Plastic Surgery), and colleagues evaluated the ability of diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods to monitor nerve regeneration after injury and repair in an animal model. The investigators compared cut injuries that were surgically repaired to crush injuries that spontaneously heal.

They determined that diffusion MRI distinguished successful from unsuccessful repairs and validated their model against behavioral and pathological findings.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, suggests that diffusion MRI may provide a noninvasive approach to assess nerve regeneration, distinguish successful from unsuccessful repairs earlier and identify cases that require reoperation.

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant NS097821) and U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

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