The Plastic Surgery Foundation
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Grants We Funded

Grant applicants for the 2023 cycle requested a total of nearly $4 million dollars. The PSF Study Section Subcommittees of Basic & Translational Research and Clinical Research evaluated nearly 140 grant applications on the following topics:

The PSF awarded research grants totaling over $1 million dollars to support nearly 30 plastic surgery research proposals.

ASPS/PSF leadership is committed to continuing to provide high levels of investigator-initiated research support to ensure that plastic surgeons have the needed research resources to be pioneers and innovators in advancing the practice of medicine.

Research Abstracts

Search The PSF database to have easy access to full-text grant abstracts from past PSF-funded research projects 2003 to present. All abstracts are the work of the Principal Investigators and were retrieved from their PSF grant applications. Several different filters may be applied to locate abstracts specific to a particular focus area or PSF funding mechanism.

The Effect of Traction on Neuroma Formation

Principal Investigator
Brent Ponce


University of Alabama at Birmingham

Funding Mechanism
Pilot Research Grant

Focus Area
General Reconstructive, Hand or Upper Extremity

Avoidance of neuroma formation is an important aspect of successful amputation surgery and so has been the focus of much research. Dozens of methods to prevent neuroma formation have been described in the literature, including chemical treatment, nerve capping, implantation in vein, bone, or muscle, and nerve wrapping. However, none has proven to be uniformly successful, and painful neuromas remain a frequent complication of amputations. Management of neuromas is not uniformly successful. Considering the disability caused by neuromas and their varying responses to treatment, prevention is of the utmost importance.
In response to an injury, nerves attempt to heal via random axonal regeneration. However, when not restrained in a perineural sheath, this may produce a painful mass of neural tissue. Laceration, crush, and stretch are among the methods of nerve injury. During amputations, some surgeons teach to pull traction on the nerves before cutting them so that they will retract proximally into muscle tissue. The aim of this practice is to reduce symptomatic neuroma formation by placing the nerve end deep in muscle to receive less stimulation. However, the effects of traction during transection on neuroma formation are not known. Traction is an injurious stimulus to nerves, but it also serves to change the geometry of the cut surface and to change the location where the cut nerve embeds.
This study proposal seeks to use an animal model of neuroma formation to compare the histologic features of neuroma formed and the clinical symptoms of painful neuroma with and without traction. In this rodent model painful withdrawal to standardized stimuli with a monofilament will be used as an indicator of neuropathic pain in order to assess the clinical relevance of the neuromas. This study has the potential to better inform surgeons about the effects of their surgical techniques on neuroma formation. As there are 185,000 new amputations in the U.S. each year, and up to 80% of patients undergoing an amputation will develop a symptomatic neuroma, this research has the potential to influence the treatment of thousands of patients.

Dr. Ponce attended medical school at Vanderbilt University and completed his Orthopedic Residency at Harvard Medical School. After a fellowship in Shoulder and Elbow Surgery at Harvard, he served at the Air Force Academy Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colorado and completed a tour of duty in Iraq. While deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom / Operation Iraqi Freedom, he treated many victims of improvised explosive devices and developed an interest in reducing pain after amputation. He then joined the faculty of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the fourth-busiest trauma center in the United States, where he has continued to be involved in the care of patients who sustain painful amputations.