To determine the impact of great auricular nerve (GAN) sacrifice during parotidectomy on patients' quality of life.
Historical cohort survey of patients who had undergone GAN sacrifice during parotidectomy.
Tertiary academic otolaryngologic practice.
Patients and Methods
Fifty-three patients who had undergone GAN sacrifice during parotidectomy completed an 8-item quality-of-life survey with a 7-point response scale designed to measure outcome after GAN sacrifice during parotidectomy.
Thirty patients (57%) reported experiencing at least 1 abnormal symptom, but the mean number of symptoms decreased significantly with time, from a mean of 2.3 during the first year to 0.2 after 5 years (P<.001). Even among patients experiencing symptoms, 23 (77%) reported only a little or no bother caused by the symptoms, and 27 (90%) reported no interference or almost none with their daily activities. The degree of bother or interference reported had a moderate positive correlation with the number of abnormal sensations reported.
The results suggest that, while many patients experienced sensory deficits, the overall quality of life was not significantly affected after GAN sacrifice during parotidectomy. Patients who report multiple abnormal sensations, however, would benefit from additional counseling and from reassurance that the number of sensations will diminish with time. Further study evaluating the effect of preservation of the posterior branch of the GAN during parotidectomy on patients' quality of life is needed.