To clarify the extent, timing, and patient perspectives of great auricular nerve (GAN) morbidity and recovery after nerve sacrifice during parotidectomy during the first postoperative year.
Tertiary care academic medical center.
Twenty-seven consecutive patients who underwent parotidectomy with GAN sacrifice.
Main Outcome Measures
Preoperatively and at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months postoperatively, we performed light touch sensation tests on each patient to develop an ink map representing anesthesia and paresthesia in the GAN sensory territory; patients also completed an outcomes questionnaire.
Twenty-two (81%) of 27 patients completed follow-up. The prevalence and average area of anesthesia decreased continually during the first year according to sensory testing and patient scoring. Half of the patients had no anesthesia at 12 months. The prevalence and average area of paresthesia increased during the first year according to sensory testing; however, the contiguity and subjective scoring of paresthesia peaked at 6 months and decreased in subsequent follow-up points. Throughout the first year, patients had difficulty using the telephone, shaving, combing their hair, wearing earrings, and sleeping on the operative side because of both anesthesia and paresthesia.
The impact of GAN sacrifice morbidity on patient quality of life is tolerable and improves during the first postoperative year. However, we feel that GAN morbidity may be bothersome enough to warrant efforts to preserve the posterior branch of the GAN when possible and appropriate.