Improvement of respiratory compromise through abductor reinnervation and pacing in a patient with bilateral vocal fold impairment

Laryngoscope. 2010 Jan;120(1):76-83. doi: 10.1002/lary.20698.


Objectives/hypothesis: To determine whether respiratory compromise from bilateral vocal fold impairment (paralysis) can be objectively alleviated by reinnervation and pacing.

Methods: A patient with paramedian vocal folds and synkinesis had a tracheotomy for stridor after bilateral laryngeal nerve injury and Miller Fisher syndrome. One posterior cricoarytenoideus (PCA) received a nerve-muscle pedicle fitted with a perineural electrode for pacemaker stimulation. The airway was evaluated endoscopically and by spirometry for up to 1 year.

Results: Bilateral vocal fold patency during quiet breathing was reversed to active vocal fold adduction during tracheal occlusion. Peak inspiratory flows (PIFs) were significantly higher (P < .001) after reinnervation. PIFs and glottic apertures increased further under stimulation (42 Hz, 1-4 mA, 42-400 microsec). although the differences were not significant.

Conclusions: Based on our preliminary data, PCA reinnervation and pacing offer promise for amelioration of respiratory compromise after paradoxical adduction in bilateral vocal fold impairment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Muscles / innervation*
  • Laryngoscopy
  • Respiratory Physiological Phenomena*
  • Respiratory Sounds / physiopathology
  • Spirometry
  • Synkinesis / physiopathology
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / physiopathology*
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / surgery*