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Submucosal arytenoidectomy: new surgical technique and review of the literature.

OBJECTIVE: Arytenoidectomy is indicated in cases of bilateral median vocal cord paralysis (most commonly due to recurrent laryngeal nerve paralysis), ankylosis of the cricoarytenoid joint due to arthritis, and tumours of the arytenoid cartilage. We propose the use of the submucosal approach, to excise the arytenoid cartilage in cases of vocal cord paralysis. We present the surgical technique and review the history and relevant literature, as well as the pros and cons of various surgical techniques for arytenoidectomy.

SETTING: Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, Israel.

METHOD: We present six cases: five cases of bilateral vocal cord paralysis and one case of a chondroma of the arytenoid with mechanical fixation of the cord. All patients suffered from dyspnea on mild exertion. An arytenoidectomy using the submucosal approach was performed on all six patients.

RESULTS: Airway results were evaluated via fibre-optic videotape laryngoscopy and direct microlaryngoscopy. Voice was evaluated subjectively by the patients and by a speech therapist before and after surgery. Following the surgery, all six patients showed clinical improvement, they no longer suffered from dyspnea at rest or upon mild exertion, and they retained reasonable voice quality.

CONCLUSION: The submucosal approach is not difficult to perform and preserves an intact laryngeal mucosa, which prevents the formation of granulation tissue and scarring, which may further obstruct the lumen. The resulting airway is good, with minimal compromise of phonation. We feel that the submucosal approach to arytenoidectomy is an important addition to the arsenal of many surgical techniques for the treatment of bilateral vocal cord paralysis.

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