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Fluorescently Labeled Peptide Increases Identification of Degenerated Facial Nerve Branches during Surgery and Improves Functional Outcome


Nerve degeneration after transection injury decreases intraoperative visibility under white light (WL), complicating surgical repair. We show here that the use of fluorescently labeled nerve binding probe (F-NP41) can improve intraoperative visualization of chronically (up to 9 months) denervated nerves. In a mouse model for the repair of chronically denervated facial nerves, the intraoperative use of fluorescent labeling decreased time to nerve identification by 40% compared to surgeries performed under WL alone. Cumulative functional post-operative recovery was also significantly improved in the fluorescence guided group as determined by quantitatively tracking of the recovery of whisker movement at time intervals for 6 weeks post-repair. To our knowledge, this is the first description of an injectable probe that increases visibility of chronically denervated nerves during surgical repair in live animals. Future translation of this probe may improve functional outcome for patients with chronic denervation undergoing surgical repair.

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