NEON Study

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Digital nerves are small nerves which pass along the side of each finger and provide important sensation to the fingertips.

These nerves can be accidentally cut when handling sharp objects like broken glass or a knife.

The NEON trial is finding out whether surgical repair of the nerve (suturing the ends together) is beneficial by seeing if patients do just as well without complex surgical repair.

Despite the reasons for sewing the ends of cut nerves together it remains unclear whether repair is the best treatment, or even needed.

One suggestion is that surgical repair, which involves placing sutures in the tissue around the nerve, is effective and gives good results.

There is also evidence that many patients, who do not have surgical repair, are able to return to work without problems.

Furthermore, even after surgical repair, the feeling in the injured finger often does not return to pre-injury levels which may create difficulties with everyday tasks.

The implication is that the operation may be unnecessary and that just cleaning the cut, a much simpler procedure, may be satisfactory for patients.

The research done so far shows conflicting results and is of varying quality. Many studies have included too few patients, did not directly compare surgical repair with no repair or have not asked the patient how they feel about the outcome of their treatment.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has funded this study. A list of hand units recruiting is available here.

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