Phrenic Nerve Reinnervation of the Cat's Larynx: A New Technique with Proven Success

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Reinnervation of the posterior cricoarytenoid muscle (PCA) should provide vocal cord abduction on inspiration, and passive adduction to enable phonation. Previous investigators have shown that reinnervation is possible, but results have not been clinically encouraging. When reinnervation was successful, the question remained whether it was provided by the transplanted nerve or by the ingrowth of adjacent nerves. In this study the phrenic nerve was transplanted directly into the PCA in a series of 12 cats. Fibrin glue was used to overcome nerve trauma and to prevent retraction of the nerve from the PCA. Laryngoscopy, electromyography, and retrograde labeling of the phrenic motoneurons provided evidence of functional reinnervation in 9 cats. Partial or complete failure in the remaining 3 was due to retraction of the nerve from the muscle. These results appear to justify trials of the procedure in humans.

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