Safety and feasibility of a novel recurrent laryngeal nerve monitoring technique

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The Laryngoscope


OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS: Continuous intraoperative nerve monitoring (CIONM) during thyroidectomy is promising technology that may reduce the incidence of recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) injuries. However, the current technique for CIONM, in which a stimulating probe is placed on the vagus nerve, has not been widely adopted because of concerns regarding its invasiveness and safety. A new method with the lead positioned on the RLN may overcome these objections and promote greater adoption of CIONM. This study was conducted to serve as the first step in determining the safety and feasibility of an RLN-based CIONM approach.

STUDY DESIGN: Case series with planned data collection.

METHODS: Fifty patients scheduled to undergo thyroidectomy were enrolled. In all cases, after identification of the RLN, a lead designed for CIONM was placed on the nerve. The lead was then left in place for a minimum of 2 minutes, and CIONM data were recorded. Laryngeal electromyographic (EMG) characteristics were assessed just before the lead was placed on the RLN and after it was removed. Pre- and postoperative fiberoptic laryngoscopy was performed to assess vocal cord function in all patients.

RESULTS: In 49 patients (98%), the probe was successfully positioned on the RLN, and CIONM data were generated. On average, 1.4 attempts per patient were required to properly place the lead. No accidental dislodgements of the lead occurred during the experiments. No patients demonstrated significant EMG changes from baseline after manipulation and stimulation of the RLN. The average CIONM time was 175.7 s (range, 138-212 s), and the average CIONM amplitude and latency were 675.2 µV (range, 211.0-1405.2 µV) and 1.8 ms (1.25-1.9), respectively. All patients had normal bilateral vocal cord function preoperatively and at the first postoperative visit.

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the apparent safety and viability of a CIONM technique using a lead placed directly on the RLN. Future investigations are warranted of this promising method, which may promote more widespread adoption of CIONM during thyroidectomy to reduce RLN injuries.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: 4 Laryngoscope, 2018.

Medical Subject Headings

Adolescent; Adult; Aged; Feasibility Studies; Female; Humans; Intraoperative Complications; Intraoperative Neurophysiological Monitoring; Laryngoscopy; Male; Middle Aged; Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve; Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Injuries; Thyroidectomy; Treatment Outcome; Vocal Cords; Young Adult

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128 Suppl 4

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