Dr Simon Atkins
BDS (Sheff), MFDS RCS (Edin), PhD (Sheff), FDS RCS (Eng)
Senior Clinical Lecturer/Consultant Oral Surgeon
School of Clinical Dentistry
Telephone: +44 (0) 114 2265462
Dr Atkins graduated from the University of Sheffield in 1999. Following this he undertook several hospital posts in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, during which he gained his MFDS fellowship exam at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
He was successful in being awarded a Clinical Research Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust, and gained his PhD in the field of peripheral nerve repair in 2008, during which time he was awarded the prestigious Senior Colgate Award for research into nerve regeneration. He was appointed at the University of Sheffield as a Clinical Lecturer/Honorary Specialist Registrar in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and completed his higher surgical training (ACCOMS) in 2012. Following this he was appointed as Senior Clinical Lecturer/Consultant Oral Surgeon.
Dr Atkins primary research interest relates to the mechanisms surrounding regeneration following peripheral nerve repair, and the development of agents to improve recovery. He is a member of the Integrated Bioscience research group, University of Sheffield and has a specialist interest in neural regeneration.
Peripheral nerve injuries are common; it is estimated that there are 300,000 peripheral nerve injuries per year in Europe (1/1000 population). In 2012/13, over 65,000 operations involving release/or repair of peripheral nerves were undertaken in England in the NHS (www.hsic.gov.uk). These injuries result in loss of sensory and/or motor function, and some patients develop chronic neuropathic pain. The management of nerve injury induced pain (dysaesthesia) is unsatisfactory and new therapeutic methods based on a better understanding of the aetiology are needed.
The role of inflammatory cytokines in the initiation of neuropathic pain after peripheral nerve repair:
This project investigates whether modification of the inflammatory cytokine profile at a site of peripheral nerve repair reduces ectopic neural discharge, and will hence reduce or prevent the development of neuropathic pain. This translational research will clarify the peripheral and central mechanisms underlying injury-induced neuropathic pain, and help identify potential therapeutic approaches.
The role of anti-scarring agents on regeneration following nerve trauma and repair:
This translational research is investigating the effect of scar reducing agents on functional regeneration following peripheral nerve injury and repair with the aim of delivering a clinically effective agent.
Dr. Atkins is significantly involved in teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, and holds a senior position within the teaching curriculum; being Theme Lead for IODC. He also teaches on postgraduate courses in Implantology and Oral Surgery for General Dental Practitioners.
Dr Atkins provides the major clinical input to maintain Sheffield as a leading internationally renowned specialist centre for nerve repair and exploration. He is an expert in the surgical management of trigeminal nerve injuries.
Lingual and Inferior Alveolar Nerve Injuries
The lingual nerve, which supplies feeling to the tongue and floor of mouth, and the inferior alveolar nerve which supplies feeling to the lower lip and chin, are frequently injured during the removal of impacted wisdom teeth, and may also occur during orthognathic surgery or as a result of facial fractures. Injury to these nerves often results in numbness of the tongue and lower lip, and/or painful dysaesthesia. As a result of this many patients are left with debilitating sensory deficits, which can cause difficulty with speech and mastication.
Sheffield has an international reputation as a centre for the clinical management of patients with lingual and inferior alveolar nerve injuries, undertaking microsurgical repair of these damaged nerves. A prospective, quantitative assessment of the outcome of lingual nerve repair undertaken at Sheffield, is the largest published single-centre series in the world literature. It has revealed that, although the outcome is variable, there is a highly significant improvement in the majority, and patients consider the surgery worthwhile.