Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery

, Volume 389, Issue 6, pp 499–503

Validity of intra-operative neuromonitoring signals in thyroid surgery

  • Oliver Thomusch
  • Carsten Sekulla
  • Andreas Machens
  • Hans-Jürgen Neumann
  • Wolfgang Timmermann
  • Henning Dralle
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00423-003-0444-9

Cite this article as:
Thomusch, O., Sekulla, C., Machens, A. et al. Langenbecks Arch Surg (2004) 389: 499. doi:10.1007/s00423-003-0444-9

Abstract

Background

Although intra-operative neuromonitoring (IONM) is widely used in thyroid surgery, the validity of the received IONM signals are still unknown.

Method

Prospective collection of data forms in 29 hospitals from 8,534 patients with 15,403 nerves at risk, who underwent surgery for benign and malignant goitre disorders between August 1999 and January 2001. IONM was performed by indirect stimulation via the vagal nerve and by direct recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) stimulation in 12,486 cases. IONM signals were compared with early (<14 days) and late (6 months) postoperative vocal cord function findings.

Results

The transient and permanent RLN palsy rate was 2.8% and 0.7%, respectively. Monitoring of the RLN function was significantly more reliable via the indirect IONM stimulation route than via the direct IONM stimulation route (specificity P<0.05). IONM by indirect stimulation via the vagal nerve reliably excluded postoperative, permanent, vocal cord palsy (specificity 97.6%, negative predictive value 99.6%). However, a changed IONM was insufficient to predict permanent RLN palsy (sensitivity 45.9%, positive predictive value 11.6%). IONM was not associated with increased general morbidity.

Conclusions

For intra-operative neuromonitoring, indirect stimulation of the RLN is superior to direct stimulation. An intact acoustic IONM signal is highly predictive of intact postoperative RLN function. When the IONM signal is abnormal or absent, a one-stage extensive thyroid resection should be performed only if the surgeon is absolutely convinced that the first RLN is not harmed or a total thyroidectomy is mandatory.

Keywords

Intra-operative neuromonitoring Recurrent laryngeal nerve Thyroid surgery Predictive value Sensitivity Specificity 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oliver Thomusch
    • 1
    • 2
  • Carsten Sekulla
    • 1
  • Andreas Machens
    • 1
  • Hans-Jürgen Neumann
    • 3
  • Wolfgang Timmermann
    • 4
  • Henning Dralle
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of General, Visceral and Vascular SurgeryMartin Luther University of Halle-WittenbergHalleGermany
  2. 2.Department of General SurgeryAlbert-Ludwigs University of FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  3. 3.Department of OtolaryngologyMartha Maria HospitalHalleGermany
  4. 4.Department of SurgeryUniversity of WürzburgWürzburgGermany