To compare the incidence of postoperative vocal cord paresis or paralysis in a cohort of patients who underwent thyroidectomy with and without continuous recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) monitoring by a single senior surgeon. We hypothesize that continuous RLN monitoring reduces the rate of nerve injury during thyroidectomy
Retrospective medical chart review.
Academic tertiary care medical center.
A total of 684 patients (1043 nerves at risk) who underwent thyroid surgery under general anesthesia.
Main Outcome Measure
Incidence of vocal cord paresis or paralysis in patients who underwent thyroid surgery with continuous RLN monitoring vs those undergoing surgery without continuous RLN monitoring.
The incidence of unexpected unilateral vocal cord paresis based on RLNs at risk was 2.09% (n = 14) in the monitored group and 2.96% (n = 11) in the unmonitored group. This difference was not statistically significant. The incidence of unexpected complete unilateral vocal cord paralysis was 1.6% in each group. Two of the 5 paralyses in the unmonitored group and 7 of the 11 paralyses in the monitored group had complete resolution.
Monitoring of the RLN does not appear to reduce the incidence of postoperative temporary or permanent complete vocal cord paralysis. There appeared to be a slightly lower rate of postoperative paresis with RLN monitoring, but this difference was not statistically significant.