Differential recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy rates after thyroidectomy

Jonathan W Serpell, James C. Lee, Meei J Yeung, Simon Grodski, William Rainey Johnson, Michael John Bailey

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48 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION:Recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) palsy is a devastating complication of thyroidectomy. Although neurapraxia is thought to be the most common cause, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. The objectives of this study were to examine the differential palsy rates between the left and right RLNs, and the role of intraoperative nerve swelling as a risk factor of postoperative palsy. METHODS:Thyroidectomy data were collected, including demographics, change in RLN diameter, and RLN electromyographic (EMG) reading. Left and right RLNs, as well as bilateral and unilateral subgroup analyses were performed. RESULTS:A total of 5,334 RLNs were at risk in 3,408 thyroidectomies in this study. The overall RLN palsy rate was 1.5%, greater on the right side than the left for bilateral cases (P = .025), and greater on the left side than the right for unilateral cases (P = .007). In a subgroup of 519 RLNs, the diameter and EMG amplitude were measured. The RLN diameter increased by approximately 1.5-fold (P 
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1157 - 1166
Number of pages10
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014

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