Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis: Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Variants and Their Implication in Surgery and Neck Pathologies, Using the Anatomical Quality Assurance (AQUA) Checklist

Juan José Valenzuela-Fuenzalida, Vicente Baeza-Garrido, María Fernanda Navia-Ramírez, Carolina Cariseo-Ávila, Alejandro Bruna-Mejías, Álvaro Becerra-Farfan, Esteban Lopez, Mathias Orellana Donoso, Walter Loyola-Sepulveda

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Introduction: The recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) is the structure responsible for sensory and motor innervation of the larynx, and it has been shown that its lesion due to a lack of surgical rigor led to alterations such as respiratory obstruction due to vocal cords paralysis and permanent phonation impairment. The objectives of this review were to know the variants of the RLN and its clinical relevance in the neck region. Methods: This review considered specific scientific articles that were written in Spanish or English and published between 1960 and 2022. A systematic search was carried out in the electronic databases MEDLINE, WOS, CINAHL, SCOPUS, SCIELO, and Latin American and Caribbean Center for Information on Health Sciences to compile the available literature on the subject to be treated and was enrolled in PROSPERO. The included articles were studies that had a sample of RLN dissections or imaging, intervention group to look for RLN variants, or the comparison of the non-recurrent laryngeal nerve (NRLN) variants, and finally, its clinical correlations. Review articles and letters to the editor were excluded. All included articles were evaluated through quality assessment and risk of bias analysis using the methodological quality assurance tool for anatomical studies (AQUA). The extracted data in the meta-analysis were interpreted to calculate the prevalence of the RLN variants and their comparison and the relationship between the RLN and NRLN. The heterogeneity degree between included studies was assessed. Results: The included studies that showed variants of the RLN included in this review were 41, a total of 29,218. For the statistical analysis of the prevalence of the RLN variant, a forest plot was performed with 15 studies that met the condition of having a prevalence of less than 100%. As a result, the prevalence was shown to be 12% (95% CI, SD 0.11 to 0.14). Limitations that were present in this review were the publication bias of the included studies, the probability of not having carried out the most sensitive and specific search, and finally, the authors’ personal inclinations in selecting the articles. Discussion: This meta-analysis can be considered based on an update of the prevalence of RLN variants, in addition to considering that the results show some clinical correlations such as intra-surgical complications and with some pathologies and aspects function of the vocal cords, which could be a guideline in management prior to surgery or of interest for the diagnostic.

Idioma originalInglés
Número de artículo1077
EstadoPublicada - may. 2023

Áreas temáticas de ASJC Scopus

  • Ecología, evolución, comportamiento y sistemática
  • Bioquímica, Genética y Biología Molecular General
  • Ciencias planetarias y espacial
  • Paleontología


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