Nerve Reconstruction

What are peripheral nerves and the problems that arise?

Peripheral nerves lead from the spine to the trunks and limbs, as opposed to the central nervous system that consists of nerves in the brain and spine. These nerves can be damaged by injuries, failed surgery, and tumors as well as some toxins and disease states.

What are symptoms of peripheral neuropathy?

The main symptoms of peripheral nerve problems are:

  • numbness and tingling,
  • burning, stabbing, or shooting pain, and
  • muscle weakness imbalance, wasting of muscles.

What is peripheral nerve reconstruction?

Peripheral nerve reconstruction removes a section of damaged nerve and either:

  • reconnects it to healthy nerve ends; this is called nerve repair.
  • replaces it with another piece of nerve from elsewhere in the body (nerve graft) or borrows another nerve to take over the function of the damaged nerve.

Nerves that are persistently painful and not able to be reconstructed may sometimes need to have their function taken away surgically in a procedure called nerve ablation. Targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR) is a surgical procedure for nerves that have been amputated. The amputated nerve is reconnected to nearby muscle nerves to help relieve nerve pain.

Who is a good candidate for nerve reconstruction?

Individuals who have nerve damage from trauma (injuries), after amputations, from tumors, and nerve entrapments that have not been responsive to medications or prior surgeries may benefit from nerve reconstruction. Occasionally, neurologists request nerve biopsies, and the biopsied nerve can be reconstructed at the time of biopsy.

What results can be expected from nerve reconstruction?

While patients can never expect complete pain relief, they often can expect a substantial decrease in pain. It varies according to each patient’s specific condition and can be discussed in consultation at the time of a patient’s office visit.

Dr. Christopher Bibbo specializes in routine and complex foot and leg nerve reconstruction. In some cases, he will also perform nerve reconstruction in the upper extremity.