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Reconstructive procedures for impaired upper airway function: laryngeal respiration

Author(s): Müller, Andreas

Journal: GMS Current Topics in Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery
ISSN 1865-1011

Volume: 4;
Start page: Doc09;
Date: 2005;
Original page

Keywords: larynx | malacia | vocal cord paralysis/surgery | reconstruction | transplantation | reinnervation | pacemaker

The larynx is the "bottleneck" of the human airway. For this reason, the effects of stenosing laryngeal pathologies on the vital factor respiratory gas exchange are particularly critical. Internal stabilization is a prerequisite for recovery of the laryngeal respiratory function in severe forms of inspiratory collapse (laryngomalacia). Effective laser surgery techniques have been developed to this end in recent years.Glottis-dilating surgery in cases of bilateral vocal cord motion impairment is now moving in the direction of endoscopic laser cordotomy or cordectomy, whereas arytenoidectomy and open surgical procedures are now used only rarely due to higher secondary morbidity rates. In individual cases, in particular if functional recovery is expected, temporary laterofixation of a vocal cord using an endoscopic suturing technique can be a helpful approach.Extensive laryngeal defects can be covered by means of composite grafts with mucosal lining, a supporting skeleton and their own vascularization. Autologous transplantation of the larynx, with its complex surgical and immunological problems, has become a manageable procedure. The problems of post-transplantation reinnervation and risk assessment of immunosuppression-induced recurrence of the tumor are still under consideration. Reanimation of the bilaterally paralyzed larynx by means of neurorrhaphy (neurosuture), neural grafting and, more recently, functional electrostimulation (pacemaker) represents a challenge for the coming years. In most cases of paralysis of the recurrent laryngeal nerve, a part of the muscles is maintained by synkinetic reinnervation when therapy is carried out, which however also prevents effective vocal cord movement due to simultaneous activity of agonists and antagonists. Modulation of reinnervation by means of electrostimulation and modern genetic therapy approaches justify hopes of better outcomes in the future.
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