The purpose of this study was to evaluate the immediate effect on capillary blood flow of surgical mobilization of 15 cm of the rabbit sciatic and tibial nerve. Capillary nerve blood flow was determined with 16-μm radioactive microspheres. Thirty-seven rabbits were divided into six groups. In the control group A (n = 7), the in situ nerve blood flow was determined. In group B (n = 7), the nerve was mobilized, leaving only the proximal and distal endoneurial vascular supplies; blood flow increased compared with in situ values in most segments. In group C (n = 5), the nerve was mobilized as in group B, but also transected distally; blood flow was markedly decreased in the distal segments but was maintained up to a diameter-to-length ratio of 1:63. In group D (n = 6), the nerve was not mobilized, but was transected proximally and distally; blood flow increased in all segments. In group E (n = 5), the nerve was mobilized and transected proximally and distally, leaving only nerve branches intact; blood flow was significantly higher in segments of the nerve from which nerve branches originated with the nerve receiving blood flow through its branches. In group F (n = 6), the nerve was mobilized, all extrinsic vessels except one were transected, and the proximal and distal nerve was transected; flow was maintained to a diameter:length ratio of 1:41 from the source of blood flow. Therefore, it does appear that long lengths of nerve may be mobilized and transposed while maintaining sufficient blood flow.
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