What is the recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN), and how is it injured during thyroid surgery?

Updated: Feb 27, 2020
  • Author: Pramod K Sharma, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Answer

Answer

The recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) innervates all of the intrinsic muscles of the larynx with the exception of the cricothyroid muscle, which is innervated by the superior laryngeal nerve (SLN). Mechanisms of injury to the RLN include complete or partial transection, traction, contusion, crush, burn, misplaced ligature, and compromised blood supply. The consequence of an RLN injury is true vocal-fold paresis or paralysis.


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