Peripheral nerve injuries remain a challenge for reconstructive surgeons with many patients obtaining suboptimal results. Understanding the level of injury is imperative for successful repair. Current methods for distinguishing healthy from damaged nerve are time consuming and possess limited efficacy. Confocal laser endomicroscopy (CLE) is an emerging optical biopsy technology that enables dynamic, high resolution, sub-surface imaging of live tissue. Porcine sciatic nerve was either left undamaged or briefly clamped to simulate injury. Diluted fluorescein was applied topically to the nerve. CLE imaging was performed by direct contact of the probe with nerve tissue. Images representative of both damaged and undamaged nerve fibers were collected and compared to routine H&E histology. Optical biopsy of undamaged nerve revealed bands of longitudinal nerve fibers, distinct from surrounding adipose and connective tissue. When damaged, these bands appear truncated and terminate in blebs of opacity. H&E staining revealed similar features in damaged nerve fibers. These results prompt development of a protocol for imaging peripheral nerves intraoperatively. To this end, improving surgeons' ability to understand the level of injury through real-time imaging will allow for faster and more informed operative decisions than the current standard permits.
View details for DOI 10.5999/aps.2015.42.5.626
View details for PubMedID 26430636
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4579176