Long-term follow-up of recurrent laryngeal nerve avulsion for the treatment of spastic dysphonia

Brian S. Jewett, R. E. Stone, Donald T. Weed, Cheryl Rainey, Robert H. Ossoff, David L. Zealear, James L. Netterville

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Long-term follow-up of 3 to 7 years is reported on 18 patients who had undergone recurrent laryngeal nerve avulsion (RLNA) for the treatment of adductor spastic dysphonia (SD). Data on neural regrowth after previous recurrent laryngeal nerve section (RLNS) are presented in 2 of these 18 patients. We introduced RLNA as a modification of standard RLNS to prevent neural regrowth to the hemiparalyzed larynx and subsequent recurrence of SD. We have treated a total of 22 patients with RLNA, and now report a 3- to 7- year follow-up on 18 of these 22 patients. Resolution of symptoms was determined by routine follow-up assessment, perceptual voice analysis, and patient self-assessment. Sixteen of 18, or 89%, had no recurrence of spasms at 3 years after RLNA as determined at routine follow-up. Two of the 16 later developed spasms after medialization laryngoplasty for treatment of weak voice persistent after the avulsion. This yielded a total of 14 of 18, or 78%, who were unanimously judged by four speech pathologists to have no recurrence of SD at the longer follow-up period of 3 to 7 years. Two of these 4 patients were judged by all four analysts to have frequent, short spasms. The other 2 were judged by two of four analysts to have seldom, short spasms. Three of 18 patients presented with recurrent SD after previous RLNS. At the time of subsequent RLNA, each patient had evidence of neural regrowth at the distal nerve stump as demonstrated by intraoperative electromyography and histologic evaluation of the distal nerve stump. One remained free of SD following RLNA, 1 was free of spasms at 4 years after revision avulsion but developed spasms after medialization laryngoplasty, and the final patient developed spasms 3.75 years after revision RLNA. Medialization laryngoplasty with Silastic silicone rubber was performed in 6 of 18, with correction of postoperative breathiness in all 6, but with recurrence of spasm in 3. Spasms resolved in 1 of these with downsizing of the implant. We conclude that RLNA represents a useful treatment in the management of SD in patients not tolerant of botulinum toxin injections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)592-601
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1996


  • medialization laryngoplasty
  • recurrent laryngeal nerve avulsion
  • recurrent laryngeal nerve section
  • silicone rubber
  • spastic dysphonia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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