In spite of an enormous amount of new experimental laboratory data based on evolving neuroscientific concepts during the last 25 years peripheral nerve injuries still belong to the most challenging and difficult surgical reconstructive problems. Our understanding of biological mechanisms regulating posttraumatic nerve regeneration has increased substantially with respect to the role of neurotrophic and neurite-outgrowth promoting substances, but new molecular biological knowledge has so far gained very limited clinical applications. Techniques for clinical approximation of severed nerve ends have reached an optimal technical refinement and new concepts are needed to further increase the results from nerve repair. For bridging gaps in nerve continuity little has changed during the last 25 years. However, evolving principles for immunosuppression may open new perspectives regarding the use of nerve allografts, and various types of tissue engineering combined by bioartificial conduits may also be important. Posttraumatic functional reorganizations occurring in brain cortex are key phenomena explaining much of the inferior functional outcome following nerve repair, and increased knowledge regarding factors involved in brain plasticity may help to further improve the results. Implantation of microchips in the nervous system may provide a new interface between biology and technology and developing gene technology may introduce new possibilities in the manipulation of nerve degeneration and regeneration.





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