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Understanding the Different Nerve Repair Techniques

Understanding the Different Nerve Repair Techniques

Your nervous system plays an essential role in keeping your body functioning, from keeping you breathing to controlling your muscles. Your nerves also help you sense things, like pressure, pain, and changes in temperature by sending messages between your body parts and your brain. 

Nerve injuries can impact function, cause pain, numbness, or tingling, and make movement a challenge. At Anthony Echo, MD, with multiple offices in Houston, Texas, our board-certified surgeon specializes in different types of nerve repair techniques

If you’re struggling with a nerve injury, take a moment to learn about nerve damage, the different nerve repair techniques, and how to determine which treatment is best for you.

Understanding nerve injuries

Nerve injuries occur for many reasons, including pressure, cutting, and stretching. You can also develop nerve injuries due to underlying health conditions, like diabetes. 

Nerves are made up of axons, or fibers coated with insulating tissues. Some nerve injuries involve damage to the axon alone, while others may damage both the tissues and fiber. Depending on the type of injury, your nerve may also be completely severed. 

When a nerve sustains an injury, it can no longer transmit the correct signal to and/or from the brain. This can result in uncomfortable or painful sensations, including:

If you suspect you have a nerve injury, be sure to schedule a nerve repair consultation with a provider specializing in nerve surgery, like Dr. Echo. It’s possible to repair damaged nerves, especially soon after the initial injury. 

It’s never too soon to come in for an evaluation since delaying treatment makes nerve repair more challenging and increases your chances of developing a painful, chronic condition that may be difficult to treat.

Different nerve repair techniques

Different nerve repair techniques help repair different types of nerve damage. The function of the affected nerve, the proximity of the nerve to the muscle, and the location of your injury all factor into which technique Dr. Echo chooses for your treatment. Some of the most common include:

Direct or primary nerve repair

Dr. Echo prefers this technique when the repair occurs soon after the nerve injury. During a direct or primary nerve repair, Dr. Echo prepares the ends of the damaged nerve using special microsurgical tools. He then aligns the ends of the damaged nerve and joins them together using sutures or stitches. 

Nerve graft

Nerve grafting involves the use of a donor nerve, either from another part of your body (autologous) or from another patient (allograft). Dr. Echo may use this technique if the nerve damage is too extensive or not eligible for primary repair. 

The donor nerve serves as a bridge between the damaged parts of the nerve. Dr. Echo first prepares the damaged nerves, then measures the distance between the ends. Using micro-sutures and special glue, he places the graft to fill the gap.

Nerve transfer

This type of nerve repair technique involves taking a healthy, functioning nerve and rerouting it to connect to your damaged, nonfunctional nerve. As the nerve heals, the axons from the new nerve grow through the damaged nerve, restoring sensation and the ability to send signals. 

Whether a nerve transfer is right for you depends on the type of injury you sustained as well as the location of the damage. It may be useful for:

To learn more about the different nerve repair techniques or to schedule a nerve repair consultation, contact the Anthony Echo, MD, office in Houston, Texas, nearest you, or request an appointment online now.

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