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Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Injury After Thyroid Surgery: An Analysis of 11,370 Patients.

BACKGROUND: Recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) injury is a well-known, potentially serious complication of thyroid surgery. We investigated factors associated with RLN injury during thyroid surgery using a multi-institutional data set. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Patients who underwent either lobectomy or total thyroidectomy were abstracted from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program thyroidectomy-specific database (2016-2017). Baseline and operative factors associated with RLN injury ≤30 d of surgery were analyzed using bivariate and multivariate methods. Secondary complications of interest included unplanned reintubation and hypocalcemia. RESULTS: RLN injury occurred in 6.0% (n = 677) of the 11,370 patients included in the study. The RLN injury rate varied significantly based on the primary indication for surgery, from 4.3% in patients undergoing surgery for a single nodule to 9.0% in patients undergoing surgery for differentiated cancer (P < 0.01). RLN injury occurred more often in thyroidectomies than lobectomies (6.9% versus 4.3%, P < 0.01) and in surgeries without intraoperative nerve monitoring (6.5% versus 5.6%, P = 0.01). After multivariate adjustment, RLN injury was independently associated with age ≥65 y [odds ratio (OR) 1.6, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.3-2.0], total thyroidectomy (OR = 1.4, 95% CI 1.1-1.6), and diagnosis of thyroid malignancy (OR = 2.1, 95% CI = 1.6-2.7) (all P < 0.001) but not intraoperative RLN monitoring (OR = 0.9, 95% CI = 0.7-1.0, P = 0.06). CONCLUSIONS: In this large multi-institutional study, RLN injury ≤30 d of surgery occurred in nearly 6% of thyroid surgeries. This comprehensive analysis of RLN injury can be used to guide informed consent discussions and aid surgeons in identifying candidates who may be at higher risk for injury.

Citation: 

Gunn, Alexander, Taofik Oyekunle, Michael Stang, Hadiza Kazaure, and Randall Scheri. “Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Injury After Thyroid Surgery: An Analysis of 11,370 Patients.” J Surg Res 255 (November 2020): 42–49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jss.2020.05.017.

Published Date: 
Sunday, November 1, 2020
Published In: 
J Surg Res
PMID: 
32540579