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Indian J Anaesth. 2010 Jul;54(4):292-5. doi: 10.4103/0019-5049.68370.

Effects of retractor application on cuff pressure and vocal cord function in patients undergoing anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.

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Department of Neuroanaesthesiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.


Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is a commonly performed procedure for prolapse of cervical intervertebral disc. It involves retraction of soft tissue of neck for adequate exposure of anterior spinal canal. Increased cuff pressure with retractor application may affect the postoperative vocal cord function. Cuff pressures of tracheal tube were measured continuously in 37 patients using air-filled pressure transducer connected to the pilot balloon. Changes of pressure from baseline values were noted after application of cervical retractor. At the end of procedure, vocal cord movement was observed using fibreoptic bronchoscope. Significant increase in cuff pressure (168% of baseline values) and airway pressure of tracheal tube during cervical retraction was observed. The vocal cord function was assessed using fibreoptic laryngoscope. One patient developed right vocal cord palsy (2.7%) and two patients had postoperative hoarseness of voice (5.4%). All these complications improved over a period of time. It is suggested that the cuff of tracheal tube should be inflated to achieve 'just seal', with adequate cuff pressure monitoring. Intermittent release of cervical retraction may help to prevent laryngeal morbidities.


Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion; cervical retraction; cuff pressure; vocal cord function supraclavicular block

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