Surgical treatment of superior laryngeal neuralgia: A case report and review of the literature | Ear, Nose & Throat Journal Skip to content Skip to navigation

Surgical treatment of superior laryngeal neuralgia: A case report and review of the literature

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March 16, 2016
by Richard Salzman, MD, PhD; Tomáš Gabrhelík, MD, PhD; Ivo Stárek, MD, PhD

Abstract

Superior laryngeal (SL) neuralgia is paroxysmal pain above the thyrohyoid membrane. We present a case of SL neuralgia that was resistant to conservative treatment and eventually required surgical intervention. The patient was a 39-year-old woman with a 5-year history of debilitating pain above the thyroid cartilage. After having undergone different imaging scans with negative results, she tried various treatments (e.g., antibiotics, analgesics, stellate ganglion block, radiofrequency SL neurotomy, and stereotactic radiosurgery), all of which were ineffective. Finally, she underwent bilateral surgical SL neurotomy. Postoperatively, she immediately noticed a significant alleviation of her pain. Her postoperative course was completely uneventful, as she experienced no dysphagia or dysphonia, even transiently. One month later, she no longer required regular painkillers, and at 14 months, she remained essentially pain-free. While medical management remains the treatment of choice for SL neuralgia, we recommend that refractory cases be treated initially with a neural block with local anesthesia. Patients who do not respond are candidates for surgery. We consider selective peripheral SL neurotomy to be safe and effective when performed by experienced hands. We also discuss the difficulties of managing SL neuralgia.

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