Purpose: The “babysitter” procedure is a reconstruction technique for facial nerve complete paralysis and uses the movement source from the healthy facial nerve with a cross-nerve graft. First, an end-to-side neurorrhaphy is performed between the affected facial nerve trunk and hypoglossal nerve for continuously delivering stimuli to the mimetic muscles for preventing the atrophy of mimetic muscles. Despite favorable clinical results, histological and physiological mechanisms remain unknown. This study attempted to establish a model for the “babysitter” procedure and find its efficacy in rats with facial nerve complete paralysis. Materials and Methods: A total of 16 Lewis rats were used and divided into 2 groups; cross nerve graft (n = 8) and babysitter groups (n = 8). The facial nerve trunk was transected in both groups. Babysitter group underwent a two-stage procedure. Cross nerve graft group underwent only the transfer of nerve graft from the healthy side to affected side. The animals were assessed physiologically by compound muscle action potential (CMAP), and the regenerated nerve tissues were evaluated histopathologically at 13 weeks after surgery. Results: Facial nucleus stained with retrograde tracers proved the re-innervation of affected facial muscle by the babysitter procedure. In CMAP, the amplitude of babysitter group was significantly higher than that of the cross-facial nerve graft group (p <.05). Histological examination found a significant difference in myelin g-ratio between two groups (p <.05). Conclusion: This study investigated the “babysitter” procedure for rat facial nerve palsy. Babysitter procedure shortened the denervation period without mimic muscle atrophy.
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