Risk factors for vagal palsy following cerebellopontine angle surgery

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6 Scopus citations


Objective. Describe the incidence, risk factors, and outcomes of postoperative vagal palsy in patients undergoing surgical excision of cerebellopontine angle (CPA) tumors. Study Design. Case series with chart review. Setting. Academic tertiary care center. Subjects and Methods. One hundred eighty-one consecutive patients undergoing surgical excision of CPA pathology from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2010, at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Postoperative unilateral vagal palsy was identified by laryngoscopy or videofluoroscopy, and clinical variables were collected from medical records. Results. Postoperative unilateral vagal palsy was identified in 19 of 181 (10%) patients. Vocal fold motion impairment (VFMI) in combination with pharyngeal palsy was more common than VFMI or pharyngeal palsy alone. Those with vagal palsy had a larger mean tumor size (30 mm) than those without vagal palsy (20 mm, P = .0002) and a significantly longer mean hospital stay (9 vs 5 days, P < .0001). Vagal palsy was not associated with tumor pathology, prior treatment (stereotactic radiation or prior surgery), or surgical approach (suboccipital craniotomy vs translabyrinthine approach). Significant rates of aspiration were observed in patients with vagal palsy (67%). Conclusion. Voice and swallowing function can be affected by surgical excision of pathology of the CPA. Tumor size is an independent risk factor for postoperative vagal palsy, which in turn has important consequences for prolonged hospital stay, aspiration, and voice and swallowing impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-368
Number of pages5
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • cerebellopontine angle (CPA)
  • dysphagia
  • dysphonia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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