Recurrent laryngeal nerve injury in video-assisted thyroidectomy: Lessons learned from neuromonitoring

G. Dionigi, P. F. Alesina, M. Barczynski, L. Boni, F. Y. Chiang, H. Y. Kim, G. Materazzi, G. W. Randolph, D. J. Terris, C. W. Wu

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    61 Citations (Scopus)


    Introduction: The objective of the study was to assess the mechanism of recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) injury during video-assisted thyroidectomy (VAT). Methods: The study examined 201 nerves at risk (NAR). VAT with laryngeal neuromonitoring (LNM) was outlined according to this scheme: (a) preparation of the operative space; (b) vagal nerve stimulation (V1); (c) ligature of the superior thyroid vessels; (d) visualization, stimulation (R1), and dissection of the RLN; (e) extraction of the lobe; (f) resection of the thyroid lobe; (g) final hemostasis; (h) verification of the electrical integrity of the RLN (V2, R2). The site, cause, and circumstance of nerve injury were elucidated with the application of LNM. Laryngeal nerve injuries were classified into type 1 injury (segmental) and 2 (diffuse). Results: Fourteen nerves (6.9 %) experienced loss of R2 and V2 signals. 80 percent of lesions occurred in the distal 1 cm of the course of the RLN. The incidence of type 1 and 2 injuries was 71 and 29 % respectively. The mechanisms of injury were traction (70 %) and thermal (30 %). Traction lesions were created during the extraction of the lobe from the mini-incision [point (e)]. Thermal injury occurred during energy-based device use in (f) and (g) circumstances. Conclusions: RLN palsy still occurs with routine endoscopic identification of the nerve, even combined with LNM. LNM has the advantage of elucidating the mechanism of RLN injury. Traction and thermal RLN injuries are the most frequent lesions in VAT.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2601-2608
    Number of pages8
    JournalSurgical Endoscopy
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 2012 Sept


    • Morbidity
    • Neuromonitoring
    • Recurrent laryngeal nerve
    • VAT
    • Video-assisted thyroidectomy

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Surgery


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