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A Journal on Surgery

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Minerva Chirurgica 2004 December;59(6):555-62

language: Italian

Non-recurrent inferior laryngeal nerve: anatomy, frequency and surgical considerations

Spartà C., Cossu M. L., Fais E., Palermo M., Cossu F., Ruggiu M., Noya G.


Aim. Systematic exposure and isolation of the inferior laryngeal nerve in thyroid surgery is a secure method to prevent complications. The knowledge of the nerve anatomy and its anomalies is essential to reduce laryngeal nerve injuries. By a re-examination of literature we underline the importance and some particular anatomical aspects of the anomalies which, even if rare, present an incidence of about 1%.
Methods. From January 1995 to December 2002 in our hospital we performed 299 interventions for thyroid diseases: total thyroidectomy (254 cases), partial thyroidectomy (45 cases). In 2 cases we observed a high variant (type I) of non recurrent laryngeal nerve.
Results. The global incidence of non recurrent laryngeal nerve was 0.66% (2/299 operations) and 0.72% if we consider the explorations of the cervical right side (2/274) where this anomaly is more frequent. The incidence of nerve injuries was 2/299 (0,66%); we had no complications in the 2 cases of non recurrent nerve observed.
Conclusion. Our experience in thyroid surgery confirms the common opinion that only the knowledge of the laryngeal nerve anatomy and the awareness of its anomalies, associated to the systematic exposure of the nerve during surgery can prevent surgical injuries.

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