Comparison of the Frequency of Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Injury with and without Exploration of the Nerve in Thyroidectomy

Authors

1 Assistant Professor of Surgery, Afzalipour School of Medicine, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

2 Associate Professor of Surgery, Afzalipour School of Medicine, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

3 Resident of Surgery, Afzalipour School of Medicine, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

4 Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Physiology Research Center & Afzalipour School of Medicine, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

5 Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, Physiology Research Center & Afzalipour School of Medicine, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

Abstract

Background & Aims: Surgeons are not willing to participate in thyroid surgeries due to dangerous, although rare, complications of the procedure. Post thyroidectomy complications are divided in early and late onset; hypocalcemia, bleeding, thyroid storm and recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) injury are the most important ones. This study was performed to compare the frequency of recurrent laryngeal nerve injury with and without nerve exploration in the thyroidectomy operation. Methods: In this Cohort study, we evaluated 566 cases underwent thyroidectomy during about 6 years (2005-2011) in two centers, Bahonar and Afzalipour hospitals, in Kerman, Iran. Results: A total of 566 patients, 124 men (21.9%) and 442 women (78.1%) with the mean age of 40.26 years and the mean hospitalization period of 3.35 days were evaluated. 382 patients (67.5%) underwent total or subtotal thyroidectomy and 184 (32.5%) underwent lobectomy and isthmectomy. 124 patients (21.9%) had malignant and 442 (78.1%) had benign lesions. The most common found malignancy was papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC), where as the most found benign lesion was multinodular guiter (MNG). Recurrent laryngeal nerve exploration was done for 337 patients (59/5%). Totally, 6 cases (1.1%) showed Recurrent laryngeal nerve injury (1 in exploration and 5 in non exploration group) from which, 4 had permanent hoarseness and 2 had permanent dysphonia. Also, malignancy and radical neck dissection had significant effect on nerve injury but re-operation and unilateral or bilateral surgery had not. Conclusion: Recurrent laryngeal nerve identification and exploration decreased the incidence of nerve injury significantly. We believe that recurrent laryngeal nerve identification and exploration during thyroidectomy is the best procedure to decrease the risk of nerve injury.

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