Biological Nerve Implant

11/9/2014

For the first time in Israel, a biological nerve implant (allographt) was performed successfully at the Ziv Medical Center. The operation was performed by Dr. Haim Katsevman, a specialist in hand surgery in the Department, assisted by the head Ziv's Orthopedic Department, Prof. Alexander Lerner. The biological nerve implant, donated by Fortis Technologies Ltd., was flown to Israel from the Tissue Bank in the USA in a special container at a temperature of -70c degrees .

To-date, nerve implant operations have been performed in Israel by removing a segment of the patient's own nerve, from elsewhere in his/her body. This type of implant means that the patient must undergo an additional operation in order to remove a healthy functioning nerve to be implanted in the wounded area. The risk of the operation is that it can cause a loss of sensation in the functioning limb, necessitates a much lengthier operation and creates an invasive wound which requires a longer recovery time and an additional scar.

The new process of using a biological nerve implant makes use of biological tissue received from a donor which undergoes a process termed Nerve Allograft. The biological implant completes the missing part in the injured nerve, enabling the nerve cells to grow into the injured nerve. After the implant is accepted, it becomes part of the patient's nerve tissue, returning sensation and functioning to the injured limb.

Prof. Alexander Lerner says that injury to the nervous system is a complex orthopedic problem, especially when there is a significant loss in the injured nerve. The operation was performed on a severely wounded casualty from the fighting in Syria. The injury caused significant loss in a nerve crucial to movement and sensation in the patient's right arm which was crushed as a result of an explosion. "The procedure of implanting a nerve from the Tissue Bank in the USA was a first of its kind in Israel. The 7.5 cm nerve segment was taken from a deceased donor and was received as a humanitarian donation from Fortis Technologies Ltd. This donation prevented the need for a far more complex operation involving the removal of a nerve segment from the patient. The operation was successful and following a period of recovery, the patient will be able to use his injured arm" said Prof. Lerner.

The biological nerve was supplied by the Tissue Bank in the USA which has received all the necessary approvals from the Health Organizations in the USA, Europe and the Ministry of Health in Israel.