Management of bilateral arytenoid cartilage fixation versus recurrent laryngeal nerve paralysis

Hans Edmund Eckel*, Claus Wittekindt, Ursula Schroeder, Jens Peter Klussmann, Christian Sittel

*Corresponding author for this work
32 Citations (Scopus)


Bilateral arytenoid cartilage fixation (ACF) closely resembles vocal cord immobility due to recurrent laryngeal nerve paralysis (RLNP). This study sought to determine the etiologic differences between these two entities and to derive conclusions about treatment. The charts of 218 consecutive adult patients with immobility of both vocal cords requiring surgery for airway restoration were reviewed. The results of laryngeal electromyography and laryngotracheoscopy were used to distinguish ACF from RLNP. In 186 patients (85.3%), RLNP was identified. Of these, 154 paralyses (82.8%) were caused by surgical interventions, 5 (2.7%) were caused by previous intubation, 16 (8.6%) were caused by various malignancies, and 7 (3.8%) were neurogenic. In 4 patients (2.2%), the cause remained unclear. We identified ACF in 32 patients. The etiologic factors included previous long-term intubation in 22 patients (68.8%), short-term intubation in 3 patients (9.4%), Wegener's granulomatosis in 3 patients (9.4%), rheumatoid arthritis in 2 patients (6.3%), previous laryngeal surgery in 1 patient (3.1%), and caustic ingestion in 1 patient (3.1%). Additional second-site airway stenosis was found in 10 of the RLNP patients (5.4%) and in 15 of the ACF patients (46.9%). All RLNP patients had endoscopic surgery without temporary tracheotomy. Eighteen ACF patients required open surgery, and 4 were managed endoscopically but required temporary tracheotomy. The etiologic factors were significantly different for the two entities under study. Additional sites of stenosis were more frequent in ACF patients. Stenosis due to RLNP could be managed endoscopically without preliminary tracheotomy, while ACF frequently required open surgery and temporary tracheotomy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)103-108
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 01.02.2003


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