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Summary

After removal of 1 metatarsal pad and formation of a granulation tissue bed, free segmental 6- × 8-mm grafts from digital pads were sutured into recessed same-size recipient sites in the granulation tissue. In 5 dogs, the grafted area had been denervated by excision of a segment of the tibial nerve at the level of the tarsus. The grafted area was not denervated in the remaining 5 dogs. In both groups of dogs, the grafts placed around the periphery of the wound healed, blocked ingrowth of delicate epithelium from the surrounding skin, and provided a tough keratinized epithelium that covered the wound's center. As healing progressed, the grafts coalesced as the wounds contracted. Weight bearing resulted in graft expansion to provide functional weight-bearing tissue.

Dogs of the denervated group had clinical and histologic evidence of collateral sensory reinnervation of the denervated area. However, with the exception of 1 dog, results of sensory nerve action potential tests indicated that reinnervation may not have been by way of regeneration across the excisional gap in the nerve.

Evaluation of reinnervation of the tibial autonomous zone in 2 additional dogs revealed clinical evidence that collateral reinnervation began between 19 and 28 days after nerve excision and progressed proximad to distad. Results of sensory nerve action potential tests indicated that reinnervation may not have been via regeneration across the excision site. Results of fluorescent tracer studies did not have positive findings regarding the route of collateral reinnervation.

Segmental paw pad grafts can be used effectively to provide weight-bearing tissue on a dog's limb. With local nerve damage on the distal portion of the limb, collateral innervation can grow into the area to reinnervate tissues, including pad grafts.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research