A multivariate approach to the treatment of peripheral nerve transection injury has been used in a rat model. A pilot study (48 animals, 8 groups) examined variables associated with the method and timing of surgical repair, the arrest of wallerian degeneration, and the role of pulsing electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) in functional recovery. A second phase (90 animals, 6 groups) then studied the timing and duration of pulsing electromagnetic field therapy as the only variable in larger groups of animals. The pilot study revealed that a vein-graft conduit did not improve functional recovery compared with standard epineurial repair. Additionally, delayed repair compared favorably with immediate repair. The use of chlorpromazine to inhibit the toxic effects of calcium influx appeared to enhance early functional recovery, and the combination of delayed nerve repair and pulsing electromagnetic field therapy seemed to consistently improve function. The second phase of the study has demonstrated (for the first time) statistical improvement in ambulation in animals treated with delayed surgical repair and prolonged pulsing electromagnetic field therapy. We postulate that future treatment of nerve transection injuries will involve a combined treatment regimen consisting of the immediate arrest of wallerian degeneration, delayed surgery, and pulsing electromagnetic field therapy.
Plast Reconstr Surg 1991 Jan;87(1):122-9
Zienowicz RJ, Thomas BA, Kurtz WH, Orgel MG.
University of Massachusetts Medical School, Berkshire Medical Center, Pittsfield.