Recent Developments of Intraoperative Neuromonitoring in Thyroidectomy

Sisli Etfal Hastan Tip Bul. 2021 Sep 24;55(3):273-285. doi: 10.14744/SEMB.2021.26675. eCollection 2021.


At present, intraoperative neuromonitorization (IONM) with surface electrode-based endotracheal tube (ETT) is a standard method in thyroidectomy and can be performed either intermittently IONM (I-IONM) or continuously IONM (C-IONM). Despite the valuable contribution of I-IONM to the thyroidectomy, it still has limitations regarding the recording electrodes and stimulation probe. New approaches for overcoming the limitations of I-IONM and developing the method are taking attention. Most of the technical issues of IONM with surface electrode-based ETT are related with inadequate contact of electrodes to the vocal cords. Nowadays, efficiency of various recording electrodes is under investigation. Recording electrodes such as needle electrodes applied to thyroarytenoid or posterior cricoarytenoid muscle (PCA), surface electrodes applied to the PCA, and needle or adhesive electrodes applied to the tracheal cartilage or skin, can make safe recordings similar to the ETT electrodes. Despite their invasiveness, needle electrodes record higher electromyography (EMG) amplitudes than tube electrodes do. Adhesive surface electrodes make safe EMG recordings, although amplitudes of these electrodes are usually lower than those of the tube electrodes. These different types of electrodes are less affected by tracheal manipulations and amplitude changes are lower compared to the tube electrodes. During C-IONM, an additional stimulation probe is applied to the vagus nerve after dissecting the nerve circumferentially. Recently, without applying a probe, a new continuous monitorization method called laryngeal adductor reflex CIONM (LAR-CIONM) using sensorial, central, and motor components of LAR arch which is an automatic, primitive brainstem reflex protecting the tracheoesophageal tree from foreign body aspiration, has been implemented. Afferent track of LAR communicates laryngeal mucosa to the brainstem by internal branch of the superior laryngeal nerve and efferent track reaches larynx through recurrent laryngeal nerve. Total outcome of LAR activation is the closure of laryngeal entry by bilateral vocal cord adduction. In LAR-CIONM, a stimulus is given by an electrode from one side of surface electrode-based ETT and amplitude response of the LAR at the vocal cord is followed on the operation side. Recently, it has been reported that real-time EMG response can be obtained with stimulation probe cables applied to dissectors or energy devices during the dissection through I-IONM.

Keywords: Electromyography; neuromonitorization; recurrent laryngeal nerve; superior laryngeal nerve.

Publication types

  • Review