A novel methodology for assessing laryngeal and vagus nerve integrity in patients under general anesthesia

Catherine F. Sinclair, Maria J. Téllez, Oscar R. Tapia, Sedat Ulkatan, Vedran Deletis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Objective To describe a novel methodology for intraoperative neuro-monitoring of laryngeal and vagus nerves by utilizing the laryngeal adductor reflex (LAR). Methods Case series of 15 patients undergoing thyroid and cervical spine surgeries under total intravenous general anesthesia. Vocal fold mucosa was electrically stimulated to elicit a LAR using endotracheal tube based electrodes. Contralateral R1 (cR1) and R2 (cR2) responses were recorded using the endotracheal tube electrode contralateral to the simulating electrode. Results The LAR was reliably elicited in 100% of patients for the duration of each surgical procedure. Mean onset latency of cR1 response was 22.4 ± 2.5 ms (right) and 22.2 ± 2.4 ms (left). cR2 responses were noted in 10 patients (66.7%). No peri-operative complications or adverse outcomes were observed. Conclusions The LAR is a novel neuro-monitoring technique for the vagus nerve. Advantages over current monitoring techniques including simplicity, ability to continuously monitor neural function without placement of additional neural probes and ability to assess integrity of both sensory and motor pathways. Significance The LAR represents a novel method for intraoperatively monitoring laryngeal and vagus nerves. The LAR monitors the entire vagus nerve reflex arc and is thus applicable to all surgeries where vagal nerve integrity may be compromised.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1399-1405
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Anesthesia
  • Brainstem
  • Intraoperative monitoring
  • Recurrent laryngeal nerve
  • Vagus nerve
  • Vocal fold


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