Volume 2 (2018) Issue 2 Pages 121-126
Introduction: During upper cervical anterior fusion involving C2, the branches of the superior laryngeal and hypoglossal nerves traversing the operative field are at risk for injury, mainly from excessive retraction and/or incidental ligation. These injuries would cause postoperative dysphagia and/or dysphonia that are often transient but might sometimes persist for several months. The aim of this study was to describe our modified approach for upper cervical anterior fusion and to examine the surgical outcomes and postoperative complications in a small case series.
Methods: Four patients underwent upper cervical anterior fusion at our institution. Detaching the omohyoid and sternohyoid muscles from the hyoid bone increased the mobility of the hyoid bone and enabled visualization of the thyrohyoid membrane. This maneuver facilitated access to C2 without excessive retraction to the larynx and the hypoglossal nerve traversing above the hyoid bone. Moreover, this maneuver enabled easy identification and dissection of the internal branch of the superior laryngeal nerve piercing the thyrohyoid membrane.
Results: Three patients underwent C2-3 fusion and one patient underwent C2-5 fusion followed by instrumentation. In all patients, wide, adequate exposure of C2 and proper instrumentation was achieved, and both the internal branch of the superior laryngeal nerve and the hypoglossal nerve were identified and preserved. No patient experienced remarkable postoperative dysphagia, dyspnea, and dysphonia. Solid union was achieved in all patients.
Conclusions: The technique of detaching the infrahyoid muscles from the hyoid bone during upper cervical anterior fusion involving C2 reduced the traction force to the larynx and the hypoglossal nerve, enabled easy identification of the internal branch of the superior laryngeal nerve, and prevented postoperative complications, such as dysphagia.