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Clinical Note
May 2000

Lingual Nerve Injury During Suspension Microlaryngoscopy

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, Md.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2000;126(5):669-671. doi:10.1001/archotol.126.5.669

Lingual nerve injury is an uncommon complication of laryngoscopy. We report a case of isolated unilateral lingual nerve injury that occurred during suspension microlaryngoscopy. The injury was transient, with complete return of sensation within 3 months after surgery. Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the occurrence of lingual nerve injury during laryngoscopy, including direct compression of the nerve caused by the laryngoscope, stretching of the nerve caused by cricoid pressure or instrumentation, and compression of the nerve between the medial and lateral pterygoid caused by manipulation of the mandible. The precise mechanism of injury in this case was not obvious, but stretching of the lingual nerve caused by pressure of the suspended laryngoscope on the tongue or retrolingual region was likely. The transient nature of the injury and the rapid return of the nerve to baseline function in this case are consistent with a neurapraxic injury.

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