Histological validation of ultrasound-guided neurography in early nerve regeneration
Ultrasound-guided near-nerve neurography is a new tool that can be used to assess nerve regeneration before reinnervation occurs. In this study, ultrasound-guided near-nerve measurements were validated against axon diameter counts in rabbits during a 15-week regeneration period after a crush lesion of their peroneal nerve. The course of the nerve was determined ultrasonically, and the active near-nerve needle electrode was maneuvered just next to the nerve under ultrasound guidance. Measured action potentials were compared with axon diameter counts from histological sections of these same nerves. A moderate to good positive correlation was found, which reached a maximum of 0.7 at a cut-off of 3 μm, corresponding to the minimal size of the myelinated axons. Our results suggest that, following a similar validation study in humans, ultrasound-guided near-nerve neurography may be clinically useful when early evaluation of nerve activity is needed.