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Otolaryngology - Surgery

Laryngeal Reinnervation Using Ansa Cervicalis for Thyroid Surgery-Related Unilateral Vocal Fold Paralysis: A Long-Term Outcome Analysis of 237 Cases
Published: Friday, April 29, 2011
Author: Wei Wang et al.

by Wei Wang, Donghui Chen, Shicai Chen, Ding Li, Meng Li, Siwen Xia, Hongliang Zheng


To evaluate the long-term efficacy of delayed laryngeal reinnervation using the main branch of the ansa cervicalis in treatment of unilateral vocal fold paralysis (UVFP) caused by thyroid surgery.

Summary of Background Data

UVFP remains a serious complication of thyroid surgery. Up to now, a completely satisfactory surgical treatment of UVFP has been elusive.


From Jan. 1996 to Jan. 2008, a total of 237 UVFP patients who underwent ansa cervicalis main branch-to-recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) anastomosis were enrolled as UVFP group; another 237 age- and gender-matched normal subjects served as control group. Videostroboscopy, vocal function assessment (acoustic analysis, perceptual evaluation and maximum phonation time), and electromyography were performed preoperatively and postoperatively. The mean follow-up period was 5.2±2.7 years, ranging from 2 to 12 years.


Analysis of videostroboscopic findings indicated that the glottic closure, vocal fold edge, vocal fold position, phase symmetry and regularity were significantly improved in the UVFP group (P<0.001, postoperative vs. preoperative). The postoperative parameters of vocal function were also significantly improved in the UVFP group (P<0.001) and showed no statistical differences compared to the control group (P>0.05, respectively). Postoperative laryngeal electromyography confirmed successful reinnervation of laryngeal muscle.


Delayed laryngeal reinnervation with the main branch of ansa cervicalis is a feasible and effective approach for treatment of thyroid surgery-related UVFP; it can restore the physiological laryngeal phonatory function to the normal or a nearly normal voice quality.