Axonotmesis is nerve injury where severe disruption of axons and surrounding endoneural sheaths takes place. Axonotmesis is characterized by axonal injury with subsequent degeneration or regeneration. The result of an Axonotmesis injury is motor, sensory and autonomic paralysis. In Axonotmesis, if the force creating nerve damage is removed in timely manner, then the axon may regenerate leading to recovery from this nerve injury. Axonotmesis is a more severe nerve injury with disruption of the neuronal axon. But in axonotmesis, the Schwann sheath is maintained. Seddon classified the nerve injury based on the extent of damage to the nerves following 'pathotofical types' on the basis of structural changes in cut nerves. The Seddon classification divides nerve injuries into three types:
Axonotmesis: Microscopic division of nerve fibers without obvious discontinuity of nerve sheath.
Neurotmesis: Complete anatomic division of the nerve fibers with obvious discontinuity of the nerve sheath.
Neuropraxia: There in injury without any anatomical discontinuity but resulting in functional disruption or nerve concussion. It is a local transient conduction blockage along the nerve.
Axonotmesis as a birth injury
As a birth injury, axonotmesis is often extremely frightening. With present day advances in the medical delivery process, there are many precautions that can be taken to lower risk for nerve injury like axonotmesis at birth. However, it must be borne in mind that not all birth related injuries are preventable. Symptoms of axonotmesis include motor and sensory loss due to blockage of conduction by demyelination. There is loss of reflex due to damage to sensory nerves. Atrophy may follow. In addition to general examination, tests may be conducted for systemic diseases such as glucose, kidney functions. A nerve conduction test is done to determine the extent of the injury. Electromyography is another diagnostic test used in axonotmesis.
In axonotmesis a complete absence of sensory modalities takes place. However, the investing sheaths of the nerve remain intact. Therefore unlike neurotmesis, recovery though delayed is likely to take place. If damage to the nerve cells has also caused destruction of the axons, there can be recovery if the supporting structures of the cells are intact. But complete recovery may not be possible. Recovery from axonotmesis can take many months. Depending upon the severity of Axonotmesis injury, full recovery can even take up an entire year. The recovery largely relies upon removal of the compressing force, timely intervention and the ability of the axon to regenerate.
Bibliography / Reference
Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: February 16, 2019