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J Neurosurg Spine. 2013 Aug;19(2):167-9. doi: 10.3171/2013.4.SPINE12428. Epub 2013 May 24.

Persistent cough associated with osteophyte formation and vagus nerve impingement following cervical spinal surgery: case report.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Faculty of Medicine, Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey.


Persistent cough due to irritation of the vagus nerve by osteophytes resulting from cervical spinal surgery is a very rare condition. The authors report the case of a 49-year-old woman who presented with a persistent cough subsequent to cervical spinal surgery. One year after the initial operation, the patient underwent surgery to free the larynx from the prevertebral fascia and cut the pharyngeal plexus, but her symptoms persisted. In order to control the cough, she used a soft cervical collar with padding inserted in the left side so that the larynx would be pushed to the right, a solution she discovered on her own. Without the collar, she coughed uncontrollably. A CT scan was performed and showed an osteophyte that had developed at the level of the prosthesis. Based on these findings, the authors hypothesized that the cough was caused by vagus nerve irritation due to the osteophyte. The osteophyte was resected and the vagus nerve was moved to a position anterior to the carotid artery and was isolated by means of an autogenous tensor fascia lata graft. The patient's symptom disappeared immediately after the surgery. At the most recent follow-up visit, 18 months after surgery, the patient was symptom free and was pursuing regular daily activities without using a cervical collar.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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