Preoperative laryngoscopy in thyroid surgery: Do patients' subjective voice complaints matter?

Cortney Y. Lee, Kristin L. Long, Roberta J. Eldridge, Daniel L. Davenport, David A. Sloan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background. Although routine preoperative laryngoscopy has been standard practice for many thyroid surgeons, there is recent literature that supports selective laryngoscopy. We hypothesize that patients' preoperative voice complaints do not correlate well with abnormalities seen on preoperative laryngoscopy. Methods. A retrospective chart review of a 3-year, single-surgeon experience was performed. Records of patients undergoing thyroid surgery were reviewed for patient voice complaints, prior neck surgery, surgeon-documented voice quality, and results of laryngoscopy. Results. Of 464 patients, 6% had abnormal laryngoscopy findings, including 11 cord paralyses (2%). Preoperatively, 39% of patients had voice complaints, but only 10% had a corresponding abnormality on laryngoscopy. Only 4% of patients had a surgeon-documented voice abnormality with 72% corresponding abnormalities on laryngoscopy, including 8 cord paralyses. When eliminating patient voice complaints and using only history of prior neck surgery and surgeon-documented voice abnormality as criteria for preoperative laryngoscopy, only 1 cord paralysis is missed and sensitivity (91%) and specificity (86%) were high. Also, when compared with routine laryngoscopy, 84% fewer laryngoscopies are performed. Conclusion. When using patients' voice complaints as criteria for preoperative laryngoscopy, the yield is low. We recommend using surgeon-documented voice abnormalities and history of prior neck surgery as criteria for preoperative laryngoscopy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1477-1483
Number of pages7
JournalSurgery (United States)
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Inc.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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