End-to-side nerve suture – a technique to repair peripheral nerve injury
End-to-side nerve suture (ETSNS) has until recently been extensively researched in the laboratory animal (rat and baboon). Lateral sprouting from an intact nerve into an attached nerve does occur, and functional recovery (sensory and motor) has been demonstrated. We have demonstrated conclusively that ETSNS in the human is a viable option in treating peripheral nerve injuries, including injuries to the brachial plexus. Among the many advantages of this new technique are: (i) simple and short operation; (ii) shorter recovery time - suture is done closer to the target organs; (iii) nerve grafts to bridge injured gaps are eliminated, reducing the morbidity·of nerve surgery to a minimum; (iv) innervation of paralysed muscles, for which there was previously thought to be no hope of recovery; opens up many new treatment options; and (v) certain aspects of nerve function and regeneration, unknown until recently, open new horizons and understanding. ETSNS has given us new dimensions in the management of peripheral nerve injuries.