EMG changes during continuous intraoperative neuromonitoring with sustained recurrent laryngeal nerve traction in a porcine model
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Purpose: Traction is the most common cause of injury to the recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) in endocrine neck surgery. The purpose of this study was to evaluate specific alterations to the electromyogram (EMG) and verify safe alarm limits in a porcine model of sustained traction of the RLN using continuous intraoperative neuromonitoring (C-IONM).
Methods: Sixteen Norwegian Landrace pigs were anesthetized and intubated with a tracheal tube with a stick-on laryngeal electrode. EMG was recorded at baseline (BL) and during sustained traction applied to each RLN until 70 % amplitude decrease from BL, and during 30-min recovery.
Results: In 29 nerves at risk (NAR), BL amplitude and latency values were 1098 ± 418 (586–2255) μV (mean ± SD (range)) (right vagus) and 845 ± 289 (522–1634) μV (left vagus), and 4.7 ± 0.5 (4.1–5.9) ms and 7.9 ± 0.8 (6.7–9.6) ms, respectively. At 50 % amplitude decrease, latency increased by 14.0 ± 5.7 % (right side) and 14.5 ± 9.1 % (left side) compared with BL. Corresponding values for 70 % amplitude depression were 17.9 ± 6.1 % and 17.3 ± 12.8 %. Traction time to 50 and 70 % amplitude decrease ranged from 3 to 133 min and 3.9–141 min, respectively. In 16 NAR (55 %), time from 50 to 70 % reduction in amplitude was ≤5 min, but in six NAR (21 %) ≤1 min. In only 11 (38 %) of 29 nerves, the amplitude recovered to more than 50 % of BL.
Conclusions: Latency increase may be the first warning of RLN stretch injury. Given the short interval between 50 and 70 % amplitude reduction of the EMG, amplitude reduction by 50 % can be taken as an appropriate alert limit.