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Ways found to avoid laryngeal damage during thyroid cancer surgery
  • By Shim Hyun-tai
  • Published 2020.04.23 17:13
  • Updated 2020.04.23 17:13
  • comments 0

Seoul National University Boramae Medical Center said Thursday that it has developed a technique to prevent damage to the laryngeal nerve during thyroid cancer surgery, by using an attached nerve stimulator.

Vocal cord paralysis due to laryngeal nerve damage is the most common and severe complication after thyroid cancer surgery. About 1 to 3 percent of patients experience laryngeal nerve damage after thyroid cancer surgery. If the injury persists permanently, it can lead to a severe deterioration of the quality of life and may require additional therapy or surgery.

Professor Chai Young-jun at the Seoul National University Boramae Medical Center

The research team, led by Professors Chai Young-jun and Yi Ka-hee at Boramae Medical Center, developed the technique in June 2019, which monitors laryngeal nerve function during thyroid surgery by a nerve stimulator with ring stimulator attached.

The laryngeal nerve is damaged when surgeons cannot find the nerve’s location or pull the nerve even after they confirm it during thyroid cancer surgery. However, the nerve stimulator alarms the surgeons when the operational equipment nears the nerve and prevents them from cutting or pulling the nerve.

The research team compared 15 thyroid cancer patients by applying the newly developed and existing nerve stimulator during the operation to 40 nerves, including recurrent laryngeal nerve and vagus nerve, and found the new attached-type stimulators showed equal efficacy to the existing nerve stimulators.

After the surgery, no patients suffered laryngeal and vagus nerve damage and showed signs of vocal cord paralysis.

“Many patients suffered from the complication developed after the surgery, and their recovery naturally slowed down. By using the ring-attached nerve stimulator, however, surgeons can decrease postsurgical complications by preventing from causing damage to the laryngeal nerve,” Professor Chai said.

The research result was published in the International Journal of Endocrinology with the title of “Feasibility of Attachable Ring Stimulator for Intraoperative Neuromonitoring during Thyroid Surgery.”


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