Sensory dysfunction and quality of life after great auricular nerve sacrifice during parotidectomy: our experience

J Laryngol Otol. 2015 Nov;129(11):1121-7. doi: 10.1017/S0022215115001863. Epub 2015 Aug 12.


Objective: This study aimed to investigate the impact on patients' quality of life of great auricular nerve sacrifice during parotidectomy.

Methods: A retrospective review was conducted of 191 consecutive patients who underwent parotidectomy with great auricular nerve sacrifice between 2006 and 2011. Residual sensory dysfunction and its impact on quality of life was analysed using an eight-item quality of life survey.

Results: In all, 139 out of 191 patients (72.8 per cent) experienced one or more abnormal sensations in the ear or neck region after surgery. There was a moderate inverse correlation between the number of abnormal sensations and time elapsed since surgery. Moreover, the degree of discomfort correlated significantly with the frequency of symptom occurrence (p < 0.001), duration of the abnormal sensation (p < 0.001) and size of the affected area (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Sacrifice of the great auricular nerve has only a small impact on patient quality of life; their daily activities are not significantly affected.

Keywords: Parotid Neoplasms; Quality of Life; Sensory Deprivation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ear, External / innervation*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paresthesia / etiology*
  • Parotid Gland / innervation*
  • Parotid Gland / surgery*
  • Parotid Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires