Laser-solder repair technique for nerve anastomosis: temperatures required for optimal tensile strength

Karen M. McNally*, Judith M. Dawes, Antonio Lauto, Anthony E. Parker, Earl R. Owen, James A. Piper

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Laser-assisted repair of nerves is often unsatisfactory and has a high failure rate. Two disadvantages of laser assisted procedures are low initial strength of the resulting anastomosis and thermal damage of tissue by laser heating. Temporary or permanent stay sutures are used and fluid solders have been proposed to increase the strength of the repair. These techniques, however, have their own disadvantages including foreign body reaction and difficulty of application. To address these problems solid protein solder strips have been developed for use in conjunction with a diode laser for nerve anastomosis. The protein helps to supplement the bond, especially in the acute healing phase up to five days post-operative. Indocyanine green dye is added to the protein solder to absorb a laser wavelength (∼800 nm) that is poorly absorbed by water and other bodily tissues. This reduces the collateral thermal damage typically associated with other laser techniques. An investigation of the feasibility of the laser-solder repair technique in terms of required laser irradiance, tensile strength of the repair, and solder and tissue temperature is reported here. The tensile strength of repaired nerves rose steadily with laser irradiance reaching a maximum of 105 ± 10 at 12.7 When higher laser irradiances were used the tensile strength of the resulting bonds dropped. Histopathological analysis of the laser- soldered nerves, conducted immediately after surgery, showed the solder to have adhered well to the perineurial membrane, with minimal damage to the inner axons of the nerve. The maximum temperature reached at the solder surface and at the solder/nerve interface, measured using a non-contact fibre optic radiometer and thermocouple respectively, also rose steadily with laser irradiance. At 12.7, the temperatures reached at the surface and at the interface were 85 ± 4 and 68 ± 4 °C respectively. This study demonstrates the feasibility of the laser-solder repair technique for nerve anastomosis resulting in improved tensile strength. The welding temperature required to achieve optimal tensile strength has been identified.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)29-37
    Number of pages9
    JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
    Publication statusPublished - 1997


    • indocyanine green (ICG) dye
    • nerve repair
    • solid protein solder strips
    • temperature monitoring
    • tensile strength


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