Strength Comparison of Fibrin Glue and Suture Constructs in Upper Extremity Peripheral Nerve Coaptations: An In Vitro Study

Eric C. Mitchell, Mohammad M. Haddara, Kitty Y. Wu, Spencer B. Chambers, Louis M. Ferreira, Joshua A. Gillis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: To compare in vitro failure loads of nerve coaptations using fibrin glue alone, a suture alone, and a combination of fibrin glue and a suture. Methods: The median, radial, and ulnar nerves of 15 fresh-frozen cadaveric upper extremity specimens (45 nerves in total) were dissected in vitro and transected 5 cm proximal to the wrist crease to simulate an injury requiring coaptation. Three coaptation techniques were used: fibrin glue alone, a suture alone, and a suture augmented with fibrin glue. The load to failure of each repair was measured using a linear servo-actuator with an in-line force sensor. The results were analyzed using 2-way repeated measures analysis of variance tests and pairwise comparisons with Bonferroni correction. Results: Both the nerve coaptation technique and the specific nerve that was repaired had a significant effect on failure load. Suture-glue repair had the highest load to failure, 11.2 ± 2.9 N, and significantly increased the load to failure by 2.9 ± 1.7 N compared with glue repair alone. There was no significant difference between suture-glue repair and suture repair alone or between glue repair alone and suture repair alone. Conclusions: In this in vitro cadaveric model, nerve injury coaptation using both a suture and fibrin glue resulted in the strongest repair. The addition of fibrin glue may provide some benefit when used to augment suture repair, but when used in isolation, it is inferior to combined suture-and-glue constructs. Clinical relevance: Combined suture-and-glue nerve coaptations might be useful in the early postoperative period in increasing nerve repair strength and potentially reducing rupture rates.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Nerve coaptation
  • nerve repair
  • peripheral nerve surgery
  • upper extremity

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