Complications of Phonosurgery: Results of a National Survey

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Medialization laryngoplasty (ML) and arytenoid adduction (AA) have become common treatments for vocal fold paralysis. The widespread use of these procedures has required many surgeons to learn these new surgeries through postgraduate education sources. Little is known regarding the efficacy of the learning methods and the types and incidence of complications in a large number of surgeons' experience.


A survey consisting of 23 questions regarding complications of ML and AA was sent to 7364 otolaryngologists.


A 33% response rate resulted in 2436 returned surveys of which 43% stated they performed ML and/or AA (n = 1039). The survey represents 14,621 cases of ML. The average respondent performed 12 ML in the past 5 years. Forty-two percent of the respondents reported experience with one or more major complication. Airway complications requiring intervention occurred more frequently following AA than ML. The most common major complications were implant migration and failure to improve voice quality. The ML revision rate was 5.4% and the reported voice quality following revision was positive in 90% of cases. A statistically significant difference in major ML complication rate was found between surgeons with experience doing fewer than 10 MLs and those with experience doing more than 10 MLs. Similar findings showed that a higher major complication rate occurred for surgeons performing fewer than two MLs per year compared with counterparts who average two or more MLs per year. A near 1% implant extrusion rate was found. Most of the extrusions occurred into the airway.


This is a study of the use and complications of ML/AA based on more than 14,000 procedures. Wide-spread use of ML for vocal fold paralysis was found. A notable rate of poor voice quality following ML/AA was identified and led to a 5.5% revision rate for ML. Revision ML resulted in an improved voice quality in more than 90% of the reported cases. There appears to be a "learning curve" for performing ML as well as an increased complication rate for those surgeons who perform fewer than two MLs per year and have a total career experience of fewer than 10 procedures. These findings suggest that ML may result in increased complications if the surgeon is not experienced or does not perform the surgery regularly.

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