Objective: Division of the sternothyroid muscle during thyroidectomy is a widely accepted surgical technique to provide improved exposure of the thyroid gland, thus facilitating the ligation of superior pole vessels and identification of the laryngeal nerves. However, few have examined the impact on voice outcomes. We evaluate the impact of sternothyroid muscle division on patient-perceived voice outcomes after thyroidectomy. Study Design: Prospective cohort study. Setting: Tertiary academic institution. Methods: A prospective cohort study was conducted comparing pre- and postoperative voice outcome data after thyroidectomy, measured using Voice Handicap Index-10. The cohort of 109 patients underwent lobectomy or total thyroidectomy by a single surgeon at 1 institution. The sternothyroid muscle was fully divided in all surgeries. The integrity of the recurrent laryngeal and external branches of the superior laryngeal nerve was assessed using intraoperative nerve monitoring and postoperative laryngoscopy. Pre- and postoperative Voice Handicap Index-10 scores were compared. Results: No statistically significant difference was found between total pre- and postoperative Voice Handicap Index-10 scores (μpreop = 1.92, μpostop = 1.83, p =.87). There were no questions yielding statistically significant responses between pre- and postoperative groups. This was consistent regardless of whether the sternothyroid muscle was cut unilaterally or bilaterally. Men showed a statistically significant improvement in score after surgery. Conclusion: These findings support no difference in postoperative voice outcomes after the intraoperative division of the sternothyroid muscle. This supports the usage of this technique as a safe means to facilitate exposure during thyroid surgery and will serve as important information to guide intraoperative surgical decision-making.
- external branch of superior laryngeal nerve