Intermittent neural monitoring of the recurrent laryngeal nerve in surgery for recurrent goiter

Beata Wojtczak, Marcin Barczyński


Reoperative thyroid surgery is still challenging even for skilled surgeons, and is associated with a higher incidence of complications, such as hypoparathyroidism and recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) palsy. Displacement of the RLN, scar tissue from previous neck surgery and difficulty in maintaining good hemostasis are risk factors in reoperations. The prevalence of RLN injury in reoperative thyroid surgery ranges as high as 12.5% for transient injury and up to 3.8% for permanent injury. Bilateral paresis can also occur during reoperations, and is a dangerous complication influencing the quality of life, sometimes requiring tracheostomy. RLN identification is the gold standard during thyroidectomy, and the use of intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM) can be a valuable adjunct to visual identification. This technique can be used to identify the RLN and the external branch of the superior laryngeal nerve (EBSLN), both of which are standardized procedures. The aim of this review was to evaluate the use of intermittent neural monitoring of the RLN in surgery for recurrent goiter, and to assess the prevalence of RLN injury while using IONM reported in the current literature.