The crossover between plastic surgery and pain is not always intuitive (beyond the cliche of beauty is pain). Running the gamut from brachial plexus injuries to limb amputation, plastic surgeons can be consulted to help patients with chronic pain.
We use small animal models to study behavioral changes associated with surgical interventions for pain. To examine the mechanisms behind these interventions, we use an array of analyses from immunohistochemistry to gene expression to neuronal electrophysiology.
Dr. Rakel Zarb hard at work under the operating microscope.
Nerve Regeneration and Inflammation
Nerve injuries are unfortunately quite common in traumas and when major nerves are heavily damaged, the only options for repair are nerve grafting. For long gaps (>3cm) in nerves autografts (less critical nerves taken from the patient, such as the sural) or acellular cadaveric grafts can be used. Unfortunately, outcomes from these repairs are often disappointing. How nerve heal and the how the body reacts to the nerve graft and repair sites can lend insight into how we can manipulate the regenerative microenvironment to improve regeneration.
Using mouse knock-out models, we are examining the role of different immune system components to address the challenge of peripheral nerve regeneration across long gaps. Mouse models are fantastically powerful and there is no better way to maintain your microsurgical skills than mouse surgery.
Regenerating axon fibers in the mouse sciatic nerve.
We are always happy to have interested students and residents get involved in our research! Please contact us if you would like to learn more about peripheral nerve research in the Hoben laboratory.
Summer lab outing: (L-R) Christian Wright, Gwen Hoben, Liz Roth, and Haley Gainer