Background: The collected experience from facial allotransplantations has shown that the recovery of sensory function of the face graft is unpredictable. Unavailability of healthy donor nerves, especially in central face defects may contribute to this fact. Herein, the technical feasibility of transferring the supraorbitary nerve (SO) to the infraorbitary nerve (IO) in a model of central facial transplantation was investigated. Methods: Five heads from fresh cadavers were dissected with the aid of 3× loupe magnification. Measurements of the maximum length of dissection of the SO nerve through a supraciliary incision and the IO nerve from the skin of the facial flap to the infraorbital foramen were performed. The distance between supraorbital and infraorbital foramens and the calibers of both nerves were also measured. In all dissections, we simulated a central allotransplantation procedure and assessed the feasibility of directly transferring the SO to the IO nerve. Results: The average maximum length of dissection for the IO and SO nerve was 1.4 ± 0.3 cm and 4.5 ± 1.0 cm, respectively. The average distance between the infraorbital and supraorbital foramina was 4.6 ± 0.3 cm. The average calibers of the nerves were of 1.1 ± 0.2 mm for the SO nerve and 2.9 ± 0.4 mm for the IO nerve. We were able to perform tension-free SO to IO nerve coaptations in all specimens. Conclusion: SO to IO nerve transfer is an anatomically feasible procedure in central facial allotransplantation. This technique could be used to improve the restoration of midfacial sensation by the use of a healthy recipient nerve in case of the recipient IO nerves are not available secondary to high-energy trauma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas