Vocal cord palsy as a sequela of paediatric cardiac surgery – a review

Sinha, Aditi, Geragotellis, Alexander, Singh, Guntaj Kaur orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8367-6951, Verma, Devika, Ansari, Daniyal Matin, Tarmahomed, Abdullah, Whitehall, Emma, Lowe, Natalie, Ashry, Amer et al (2021) Vocal cord palsy as a sequela of paediatric cardiac surgery – a review. Cardiology in the Young . ISSN 1047-9511

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1047951121001165


Vocal cord palsy is one of the recognised complications of complex cardiac surgery in the paediatric population. While there is an abundance of literature highlighting the presence of this complication, there is a scarcity of research focusing on the pathophysiology, presentation, diagnosis, and treatment options available for children affected by vocal cord palsy.

Materials and methods:
Electronic searches were conducted using the search terms: “Vocal Cord Palsy,” “VCP,” “Vocal Cord Injury,” “Paediatric Heart Surgery,” “Congenital Heart Surgery,” “Pediatric Heart Surgery,” “Vocal Fold Movement Impairment,” “VFMI,” “Vocal Fold Palsy,” “PDA Ligation.” The inclusion criteria were any articles discussing the outcomes of vocal cord palsy following paediatric cardiac surgery.

The two main populations affected by vocal cord palsy are children undergoing aortic arch surgery or those undergoing PDA ligation. There is paucity of prospective follow-up studies; it is therefore difficult to reliably assess the current approaches and the long-term implications of management options.

Vocal cord palsy can be a devastating complication following cardiac surgery, which if left untreated, could potentially result in debilitation of quality of life and in severe circumstances could even lead to death. Currently, there is not enough high-quality evidence in the literature to aid recognition, diagnosis, and management leaving clinicians to extrapolate evidence from adult studies to make clinical judgements. Future research with a focus on the paediatric perspective is necessary in providing evidence for good standards of care.

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