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Original Article
March 2000

Sensory Changes Associated With Selective Neck Dissection

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland (Drs Saffold, Wax, Andersen, Everts, and Cohen); the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, State University of New York at Buffalo (Dr Nguyen); and the Department of Otolaryngology, Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Portland (Dr Caro).

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2000;126(3):425-428. doi:10.1001/archotol.126.3.425

Objective  To evaluate sensory changes in the head and neck region associated with selective neck dissection with or without preservation of cervical root branches.

Design  Retrospective cohort study.

Setting  University tertiary referral hospital and a Veterans Affairs hospital.

Patients  Fifty-seven patients who had undergone 84 neck dissections with or without preservation of the sensory cervical root branches 3 or more months before evaluation.

Interventions  Questionnaire combined with head and neck sensory examination.

Main Outcome Measures  Neck and facial sensory function.

Results  Neck dissections with preservation of the cervical rootlets were most likely to be associated with a small area of anesthesia in the upper neck below the body of the mandible and anterior to the mid-body of the mandible (P=.03). Neck dissections without rootlet-preserving technique increased the area of anesthesia to include all other areas of the neck (P=.02).

Conclusions  Preservation of the cervical root branches resulted in a small, limited, and uniform area of the neck rendered permanently anesthetic. Conversely, sacrifice of the nerve branches led to a pattern of anesthesia involving the entire neck.