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Outcome Assessment of Inferior Alveolar Nerve Microsurgery: A Retrospective Review

      Purpose

      This retrospective study was performed to assess the clinical outcome of patients who have undergone trigeminal nerve microsurgical repair of the inferior alveolar nerve.

      Materials and Methods

      This study includes all patients who underwent microsurgical repair of the inferior alveolar nerve at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey from July 1, 1998 through June 30, 2003. Each patient underwent a thorough evaluation of sensory nerve function that included the type of injury, date of injury, and neurosensory testing. The evaluation was performed pre- and postoperatively to assess sensory improvement. Through chart review and quantitative statistical analysis, the outcome of inferior alveolar nerve microsurgical repair was assessed to ascertain which sensory variables were statistically significant in showing improvement from microsurgical procedures.

      Results

      Thirty-two patients underwent microsurgical repair of their inferior alveolar nerve injury by the same surgeon. The average period of time from initial nerve injury until primary surgical repair was 6.6 months. Four patients did not follow-up postoperatively and were excluded from the final data. Of the remaining 28 patients, mean follow-up period was 9.5 months. It was determined that 26 patients (92.9%) had statistically significant neurosensory improvement, with 14 reporting (50%) significant improvement, 12 patients (42.9%) with slight improvement, and 2 patients (7.1%) demonstrating no improvement. No statistical evidence was found to support that a decrease in time from injury to surgery had improved results in this limited patient population.

      Conclusion

      Microsurgical repair provides an improvement in neurosensory function in patients that present with an inferior alveolar nerve injury.
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