Tongue Reinnervation by Hypoglossal-Lingual Nerve Transfer

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Abstract

The morbidity associated with total glossectomy for treatment of base of tongue carcinomas provides the impetus to investigate techniques to salvage the uninvolved normal anterior tongue. This report describes a method of reinnervation of the anterior tongue using a hypoglossal-lingual transfer. In Cynomologous monkeys, unilateral transfers with and without a subsequent muscle fillet resulted in reinnervation from the base to the tip of the tongue. It is proposed that hypoglossal-lingual nerve transfers be considered to allow sparing and return of function to the anterior tongue in conjunction with a resection of the tongue base. Additional experiments confirmed that the base of the tongue, like other midline muscles, has bilateral and separate innervation. The presence of a physiological lingual-hypoglossal reflex in the normal animal was documented.

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