Hypoglossal nerve transfer for laryngeal reinnervation: A preliminary study

Randal C. Paniello, Patty Lee, J. David Dahm

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19 Scopus citations


The hypoglossal nerve is a logical donor nerve for hemilaryngeal reinnervation because 1) its activity coincides with normal laryngeal adduction during speech and deglutition; 2) it is a large nerve with many axons; and 3) donor site morbidity is low. This method of laryngeal reinnervation has not been previously reported. Previous studies using the ansa cervicalis for reinnervation have failed to show spontaneous activity. Hypoglossal-to-recurrent laryngeal nerve anastomosis was performed on a series of 5 dogs. The vocal folds were viewed monthly, with the animals awake, by infraglottic examination through a permanent tracheostomy. One dog failed due to technical error. The remaining 4 dogs began to exhibit spontaneous vocal fold adduction within 2 to 4 months. Vocal fold motion was synchronous with spontaneous tongue motion. Complete glottic closure was seen during swallowing at 3 to 5 months. Intraglottic pressure measurements following reinnervation were normal. Hypoglossal nerve transfer appears to be capable of providing functional adduction to the paralyzed hemilarynx. The potential advantages and disadvantages of this new technique are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-244
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999


  • Hypoglossal nerve
  • Laryngeal reinnervation
  • Nerve transfer


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