Compound Motor Action Potential Quantifies Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Innervation in a Canine Model

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The compound motor action potential (CMAP) is the summated action potential from multiple muscle fibers activated by a single nerve impulse. The utility of laryngeal muscle CMAP for quantifying innervation following recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) injury was investigated.


In a series of 21 canine hemi-laryngeal preparations, RLNs were exposed and a stimulating electrode placed. Maximum CMAP amplitudes and area under the curve from the thyroarytenoid (TA) muscles were obtained at baseline and at 6 months following injury to the RLN. Injury mechanisms included crush, stretch, cautery, and complete transection with microsuture repair.


Prior to injury, baseline CMAP amplitudes and area under the curve were 15.81 mV and 15.49mVms, respectively. Six months following injury, CMAP amplitude and area under curve were 105.1% and 102.1% of baseline for stretch, 98.7% and 112.7% for crush, 93.3% and 114.3% for cautery. The CMAP amplitude and area under the curve in the transection/repair group had a 54.3% and 69.4% recovery, respectively, which were significantly different than baseline (P < .01, P < .05). These values were correlated with vocal fold motion.


The CMAP is a measure of vocal fold innervation. The technique could be further developed for clinical and experimental applications.

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