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Revista Colombiana de Cirugía

Print version ISSN 2011-7582


FUENTES, Carlos et al. Reconstruction of the laryngeal nerve by the Horsley technique. rev. colomb. cir. [online]. 2018, vol.33, n.1, pp.27-36. ISSN 2011-7582.


The most feared complication of thyroidectomy is the vocal cord palsy secondary to injury of the recurrent laryngeal nerve. In this study we analize the Horsley technique for reconstruction for this surgical injury.


The aim of this study was to describe the functional outcomes of the reconstruction of the recurrent laryngeal nerve by the Horsley technique.

Materials and methods.

A prospective study including patients with section of the recurrent laryngeal nerve and the use of the of the Horsley technique for reconstruction was carried out in the period January 2000 to December 2015. The outcomes evaluated were: a) acoustic voice analysis indexes (maximum phonation time, involuntary disturbance of frequency (jitter), disturbance of amplitude (shimmer), and fundamental frequency); b) stroboscopic findings; and c) vocal disability index.

The Fisher’s exact test and the SPSS™ program were used for the statistical analysis.


The study included 1,547 thyroidectomies with 10 complete sections of the recurrent laringeal nerve (0.64%), 2 unnoticed injuries (0.12%) (p=0,0001), and 8 injuries identified intraoperatively in patients with tumor infiltration. In the voice quality test we found: low fundamental frequencies with median values of 104.79 ± 0, Hz in the male population (reference value, RV=141,74) and 208,12 ± 22,72 Hz in the female population (RV=241,08), wich correlates with a jitter of 1,39 ± 0,99% (RV=1,04) and with a decrease in maximum phonation time (median=10,9 ±3,07s). Index of perception of voice quality was mild voice disability (22,7 ± 11,8). Stroboscopy showed complete clossure of glottis in 9 patients (90%) (p=0,005), with an adequate position of the arytenoid cartilages in 7 patients.


The rate of unnoticed injuries of recurrent laringeal nerve at Central Military Hospital in Bogotá, Colombia, is 0.12%. The Horsley reconstruction technique demonstrated satisfactory functional results in 90% of cases.

Keywords : Thyroidectomy; recurrent laryngeal nerve; recurrent laryngeal nerve injuries; vocal cord paralysis; reconstruction..

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