Long-term follow-up of vocal fold movement impairment and feeding after neonatal cardiac surgery

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2016 Apr;83:211-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2016.02.014. Epub 2016 Feb 22.


Objective: To determine the long-term prognosis of children with vocal fold mobility impairment (VFMI) after cardiac surgery, with respect to time to normal feeding and incidence of admissions for pneumonia and feeding difficulties.

Methods: A retrospective chart review was conducted of all neonates who had otolaryngology exam after cardiac surgery at a tertiary children's hospital from May 2007 to May 2008. Charts were reviewed for demographics, type of cardiac surgery, vocal fold mobility, diet at time of discharge and at last follow-up, time to full oral feeding, and hospital admissions.

Results: There were a total of 94 patients included in the study, 17 of whom had VFMI. While significantly more patients with VFMI required modified diet at discharge, 48% compared to 19% of patients with normal vocal fold mobility; there was no statistically significant difference in time to regular diet on long-term follow-up, 0.8 years (VFMI) compared to 0.4 years (normal vocal fold mobility). Of the 25 patients with modified diet or gastrostomy tube at discharge, 52% returned to full feeds within a year. There was no difference in hospitalizations for pneumonia in patients with or without VFMI. However in patients with VFMI, 35% required readmission for feeding difficulty or poor weight gain compared to only 5% in the infants with normal vocal fold mobility.

Conclusion: After neonatal cardiac surgery, there do not appear to be long-term effects of VFMI with regards to readmission for pneumonia. However, there is an increased risk for hospitalization with respect to feeding difficulties in those neonates with VFMI. The overall prognosis for time to oral feeding is good.

Keywords: Dysphagia; Feeding; Neonatal cardiac surgery; Vocal fold movement impairment.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Feeding Methods
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / etiology*
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / physiopathology
  • Vocal Cords