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imagePurpose
The investigators wanted to evaluate, analyze, and compare the current microsurgical repair modalities (primary repair, autograft, tube conduit, and allograft reconstruction) in achieving functional sensory recovery in inferior alveolar and lingual nerve reconstructions due to injury.
Methods
A literature review was undertaken to identify studies focusing on microsurgical repair of inferior alveolar and lingual nerve injuries. Included studies provided a defined sample size, the reconstruction modality, and functional sensory recovery rates. A Fischer exact test analysis was performed with groups based on the nerve and repair type, which included subgroups of specific nerve gap reconstruction modalities.
Results
Twelve studies were analyzed resulting in a sample consisting of 122 lingual nerve and 137 inferior alveolar nerve reconstructions. Among the nerve gap reconstructions for the lingual nerve, processed nerve allografts and autografts were found to be superior in achieving functional sensory recovery over the conduits with P values of 0.0001 and 0.0003, respectively. Among the nerve gap reconstructions for the inferior alveolar nerve, processed nerve allografts and autografts were also found to be superior in achieving functional sensory recovery over the conduits with P values of 0.027 and 0.026, respectively. Overall, nerve gap reconstructions with allografts and autografts for inferior alveolar and lingual nerve reconstruction were superior in achieving functional sensory recovery with a P value of <0.0001.
Conclusions
The data analyzed in this study suggest that primary tension-free repair should be performed in inferior alveolar and lingual nerve reconstructions when possible. If a bridging material is to be used, then processed nerve allografts and autografts are both superior to conduits and noninferior to each other. In addition, allografts do not have the complications related to autograft harvesting such as permanent donor site morbidity. Based on the conclusions drawn from these data, we provide a reproducible operative technique for inferior alveolar and lingual nerve reconstruction.

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