Ten million people have their wisdom teeth removed every year, but when a college student from Atlanta had the procedure done, it went very wrong.
"When I woke up from the anesthesia, the surgeon who removed my wisdom teeth said that he had seen a structure across my left bottom wisdom tooth, and he had cut it. Afterwards, he realized it may have been a lingual nerve," said Anna Gabianelli.
It was her lingual nerve. The mistake left her with part of her tongue permanently numb, affecting eating, even speech.
Dr. Shahrokh Bagheri is Chief of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Northside Hospital and is also with Georgia Oral and Facial Reconstructive Surgery. Gabianelli turned to him for help.
His job is to fuse those nerves back together. The traditional repair involves harvesting nerves from another part of the body. "It subjects the patient to an additional procedure, an additional scar, and possibly and infection or a complication from the other surgical site."
With Anna, Bagheri tried a cutting-edge technique using an implant from a human cadaver donor. Avance nerve graft has only been marketed to facial surgeons for the past six months, although it's been used in extremities for six years. "It's faster. It's as good, and it prevents the patient from having an additional scar, and also it's cheaper."
Bagheri says every surgery brings risks, but overall, the majority of people do well. That includes Anna who says, "I'm feeling good." Anna must do rehab exercises three times a day for the next few months, but she is expected to make a full recovery.
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