Recurrent laryngeal nerve injury following reoperative anterior cervical discectomy and fusion: A meta-analysis

Academic Article


  • OBJECTIVE: Recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) injury is one of the most frequent complications of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) procedures. The frequency of RLN is reported as 1%-11% in the literature.4,15 The rate of palsy after reoperative ACDF surgery is not well defined. This meta-analysis was performed to review the current medical evidence on RLN injury after ACDF surgery and to determine a relative rate of RLN injury after reoperative ACDF. METHODS: MEDLINE, PubMed, and Google Scholar searches were performed using several key words and phrases related to ACDF surgery. Included studies were written in English, addressed revisionary ACDF surgery, and studied outcomes of RLN injury. Statistical analysis was then performed using a random-effects model to calculate a pooled rate of RLN injury. The heterogeneity of the studies was assessed using Cochran's Q statistic and I2 statistic, and a funnel plot was constructed to evaluate publication bias. RESULTS: The search initially identified 345 articles on this topic. Eight clinical articles that met all inclusion criteria were included in the meta-analysis. A total of 238 patients were found to have undergone reoperative ACDF. Thirty-three of those patients experienced an RLN injury. This analysis identified a rate of RLN injury in the literature after reoperative ACDF of 14.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] 9.8%-19.1%). CONCLUSIONS: The rate of RLN palsy of 14.1% was greater than any published rate of RLN injury after primary ACDF operations, suggesting that there is a greater risk of hoarseness and dysphagia with reoperative ACDF surgeries than with primary procedures as reported in these studies.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Erwood MS; Hadley MN; Gordon AS; Carroll WR; Agee BS; Walters BC
  • Start Page

  • 198
  • End Page

  • 204
  • Volume

  • 25
  • Issue

  • 2