What are the iatrogenic causes of spinal accessory nerve (SAN) injury?

Updated: Feb 09, 2018
  • Author: Rohan R Walvekar, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Spinal accessory nerve (SAN) injury may be idiopathic or may have one of the following etiologies:


See the list below:

  • Lymph node biopsy in the posterior triangle of the neck (a frequent iatrogenic cause of SAN trauma)

  • Radical neck dissection (by definition involves the resection of the SAN for complete tumor clearance)

  • Neck surgery [16]

    • Excision of benign neck masses

    • Other types of neck dissection (modified or selective neck dissection)

    • Parotidectomy

    • Carotid vessel surgery (eg, endarterectomy)

    • Internal jugular vein manipulation (eg, vein cannulation)

    • Facelift [17]

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