New Jersey medical team performs successful phrenic nerve surgery

New Jersey medical team performs successful phrenic nerve surgery

by Barbara Kram, Editor | June 07, 2010

He receives regular e-mails and calls from patients around the country seeking his innovative approach to this debilitating and often dismissed problem.

Dr. Kaufman stressed that when you decompress a nerve, patients can enjoy an early recovery. But a nerve graft can take considerable time for the function to return. Nerves regenerate at about one millimeter per day and the distance from the neck to the diaphragm is about 30 centimeters. It may take
300 days before the patient sees any signs of recovery. Also, patient selection is important because if the injury is too old, the nerve may be beyond repair.

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But for people who are disabled and told there's no hope, the delicate work of Kaufman and his team provides real promise. They've done more than a dozen cases in the past four years.

Notably, the work of plastic surgeons is often not related to cosmetic surgery at all but involves their special skill in nerve and reconstructive microsurgery.

"Reconstructive surgery is the aspect of surgery that is often not spoken about or focused on as much in the media as cosmetic surgery. But there is a whole field of reconstructive surgery ranging from patients with burns to reconstructive surgery after cancer to nerve injuries. Everything from skin cancer to breast cancers, cancers of the head and neck where plastic surgeons reconstruct form and function all over the body," he said.

Dr. Kaufman has special interests in reconstructive surgery for cranial nerve disorders, skin and head and neck cancer, and vascular malformations. He practices at the Plastic Surgery Center in Shrewsbury, N. J., and is a cancer reconstruction and microsurgery consultant for the Head and Neck Oncology Group of Central New Jersey based at Saint Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick.

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