Many conduits have demonstrated potential to substitute nerve autografts; however, the influence of conduit inner diameter (ID) has never been studied as a separate parameter. This experimental study compared motor recovery after segmental nerve repair with two different ID collagen conduits: 1.5 and 2.0 mm. In addition, the conduits were analyzed in vitro to determine the variations of ID before and after hydration. Thirty rats were divided into three groups: 2.0 mm ID, 1.5 mm ID, and a control group autograft. After 12 weeks, the 1.5 mm ID group demonstrated significant increase in force (P < 0.0001) and weight (P < 0.0001) of the tibialis anterior muscle and better histomorphometry results of the peroneal nerve (P < 0.05) compared to 2.0 mm ID group; nevertheless, autograft results outperformed both conduits (P < 0.0001). Conduits ID were somewhat smaller than advertised, measuring 1.59 ± 0.03 mm and 1.25 ± 0.0 mm. Only the larger conduit showed a 6% increase in ID after hydration, changing to 1.69 ± 0.02 mm. Although autografts perform best, an improvement in motor recovery can be achieved with collagen conduits when a better size match conduit is being used. Minimal changes in collagen conduits ID can be expected after implantation.
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