Laryngeal reinnervation for bilateral vocal fold paralysis

Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011 Dec;19(6):434-8. doi: 10.1097/MOO.0b013e32834c7d30.


Purpose of review: Laryngeal reinnervation for bilateral vocal fold paralysis (BVFP) patients is a promising technique to achieve good airway, although preserving a good quality of voice. On the other hand, the procedure is not simple. This review explores the recent literature on surgical technique and factors that may contribute to the success.

Recent findings: Research and literature in this area are limited due to variability and complexity of the nerve supply. The posterior cricoarytenoid (PCA) muscle also receives nerve supply from the interarytenoid branch. Transection of this nerve at the point between interarytenoid and PCA branch may prevent aberrant reinnervation of adductor nerve axons to the PCA muscle. A varying degree of regeneration of injured recurrent laryngeal nerves (RLN) in humans of more than 6 months confirms subclinical reinnervation, which may prevent denervation-induced atrophy.

Summary: Several promising surgical techniques have been developed for bilateral selective reinnervation for BVFP patients. This involves reinnervation of the abductor and adductor laryngeal muscles. The surgical technique aims at reinnervating the PCA muscle to trigger abduction during the respiratory cycle and preservation of good voice by strengthening the adductor muscles as well as prevention of laryngeal synkinesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arytenoid Cartilage / innervation
  • Cricoid Cartilage / innervation
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Muscles / innervation*
  • Laryngeal Muscles / surgery*
  • Laryngeal Nerves / surgery*
  • Nerve Regeneration
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Phrenic Nerve / surgery
  • Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve / surgery
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / physiopathology*
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / surgery*
  • Vocal Cords / innervation*
  • Vocal Cords / surgery*
  • Voice Quality