D. K. Sengupta, M. P. Grevitt, S. M. H. Mehdian
February 1999, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 78 - 80 Case report Read Full Article 10.1007/s005860050131
First Online: 17 February 1999
Injury to the hypoglossal nerve is a recognised complication after soft tissue surgery in the upper part of the anterior aspect of the neck, e.g. branchial cyst or carotid body tumour excision. However, this complication has been rarely reported following surgery of the upper cervical spine. We report the case of a 35-year-old woman with tuberculosis of C2–3. She underwent corpectomy and fusion from C2 to C5 using iliac crest bone graft, through a left anterior oblique incision. She developed hypoglossal nerve palsy in the immediate postoperative period, with dysphagia and dysarthria. It was thought to be due to traction neurapraxia with possible spontaneous recovery. At 18 months’ follow-up, she had a solid fusion and tuberculosis was controlled. The hypoglossal palsy persisted, although with minimal functional disability. The only other reported case of hypoglossal lesion after anterior cervical spine surgery in the literature also failed to recover. It is concluded that hypoglossal nerve palsy following anterior cervical spine surgery is unlikely to recover spontaneously and it should be carefully identified.
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