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External laryngeal nerve landmarks revisited

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Stephen McHanwell


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© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Background: Because external laryngeal nerve (ELN) iatrogenic damage is frequent during neck surgery, its precise localization has been highly recommended. This study analyzes the different surgical landmarks previously proposed and the anatomy of the collateral and terminal branches of the ELN. Methods: The necks of 157 (77 men and 80 women) human adult embalmed cadavers were examined. The ELN origin, length, and relationship to different landmarks were recorded and results statistically compared with those previously reported. Results: The ELN is located deep to the ascending pharyngeal vein in 100% of patients. In most patients, it crosses the carotid axis at the thyroid artery origin level (47% of patients), passes medial to it (89% of patients), and shows an intramuscular trajectory through the inferior constrictor of the pharynx (80% of patients). Conclusion: The ELN position, in relation to classical landmarks, is highly variable. The most reliable relationships are those with the ascending pharyngeal vein or with the superior thyroid artery.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ortega C, Maranillo E, McHanwell S, Sanudo J, Vazquez-Osorio T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Head and Neck

Year: 2018

Volume: 40

Issue: 9

Pages: 1926-1933

Print publication date: 10/09/2018

Online publication date: 23/04/2018

Acceptance date: 20/02/2018

ISSN (print): 1043-3074

ISSN (electronic): 1097-0347

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.


DOI: 10.1002/hed.25186


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