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Nerve stimulation in thyroid surgery: is it really useful?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgical Sciences, Endocrine Surgery.
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2007 (English)In: ANZ journal of surgery, ISSN 1445-1433, E-ISSN 1445-2197, Vol. 77, no 5, 377-380 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

BACKGROUND: Monitoring of the recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) has been claimed in some studies to reduce rates of nerve injury during thyroid surgery compared with anatomical dissection and visual identification of the RLN alone, whereas other studies have found no benefit. Continuous monitoring with endotracheal electrodes is expensive whereas discontinuous monitoring by laryngeal palpation with nerve stimulation is a simple and inexpensive technique. This study aimed to assess the value of nerve stimulation with laryngeal palpation as a means of identifying and assessing the function of the RLN and external branch of the superior laryngeal nerve (EBSLN) during thyroid surgery. METHODS: This was a prospective case series comprising 50 consecutive patients undergoing total thyroidectomy providing 100 RLN and 100 EBSLN for examination. All patients underwent preoperative and postoperative vocal cord and voice assessment by an independent ear, nose and throat surgeon, laryngeal examination at extubation and all were asked to complete a postoperative dysphagia score sheet. Dysphagia scores in the study group were compared with a control group (n = 20) undergoing total thyroidectomy without nerve stimulation. RESULTS: One hundred of 100 (100%) RLN were located without the use of the nerve stimulator. A negative twitch response occurred in seven (7%) RLN stimulated (two bilateral, three unilateral). Postoperative testing, however, only showed one true unilateral RLN palsy postoperatively (1%), which recovered in 7 weeks giving six false-positive and one true-positive results. Eighty-six of 100 (86%) EBSLN were located without the nerve stimulator. Thirteen of 100 (13%) EBSLN could not be identified and 1 of 100 (1%) was located with the use of the nerve stimulator. Fourteen per cent of EBSLN showed no cricothyroid twitch on EBSLN stimulation. Postoperative vocal function in these patients was normal. There were no instances of equipment malfunction. Dysphagia scores did not differ significantly between the study and control groups. CONCLUSION: Use of a nerve stimulator did not aid in anatomical dissection of the RLN and was useful in identifying only one EBSLN. Discontinuous nerve monitoring by stimulation during total thyroidectomy confers no obvious benefit for the experienced surgeon in nerve identification, functional testing or injury prevention.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 77, no 5, 377-380 p.
Keyword [en]
nerve stimulator, recurrent laryngeal nerve, superior laryngeal nerve, thyroidectomy
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-88394DOI: 10.1111/j.1445-2197.2007.04065.xPubMedID: 17497981OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-88394DiVA: diva2:158228
Available from: 2009-01-30 Created: 2009-01-30 Last updated: 2013-12-16

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Stålberg, Peter L. H.
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Endocrine Surgery
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