[Unilateral laryngeal nerve paralysis in the adult: Epidemiology, symptoms, physiopathology and treatment]

Presse Med. 2014 Apr;43(4 Pt 1):348-52. doi: 10.1016/j.lpm.2013.07.029. Epub 2014 Feb 10.
[Article in French]


In France, the main causes for unilateral laryngeal nerve paralysis in the adult patient are surgery and malignant tumors. Most of unilateral laryngeal nerve paralysis following thyroid surgery will recover within the first six postoperative months. At the time of unilateral laryngeal nerve paralysis, swallowing impairment and dyspnea occur in around 30% and 5% of cases, respectively. In the face of a unilateral laryngeal nerve paralysis occurring without a history of trauma of surgery, the main paraclinical examination to perform is a computed laryngeal nerve examination analyzing the whole length of the nerve involved. Speech therapy efficiency is related to the degree of severity of the symptoms related to unilateral laryngeal nerve paralysis. In the vast majority of cases, laryngeal medialization approaches improve dysphonia and swallowing impairment related to unilateral laryngeal paralysis, but not dyspnea.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dysphonia / diagnosis
  • Dysphonia / epidemiology
  • Dysphonia / physiopathology
  • Dysphonia / therapy
  • France
  • Humans
  • Phonation / physiology
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Prostheses and Implants
  • Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve / physiopathology
  • Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Injuries / diagnosis
  • Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Injuries / epidemiology
  • Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Injuries / physiopathology
  • Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Injuries / therapy
  • Risk Factors
  • Speech Therapy
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / diagnosis*
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / epidemiology*
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / physiopathology
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / therapy
  • Vocal Cords / physiopathology
  • Vocal Cords / surgery


  • Biocompatible Materials