To establish the anatomical relationships between the arytenoid and cricoid cartilages and apply these findings to design an arytenoidectomy based on a sound anatomical basis.
In 50 patients the length of the vocal process and the distance between vocal process tip and upper border of the cricoid cartilage were endoscopically measured. Twenty-five total laryngectomy specimens were sagittally and axially sectioned to verify the position of the arytenoids and their relation to the cricoid. The anatomical findings led to the design of laser partial arytenoidectomy and cordotomy (L-PAC), which was used in 45 patients with bilateral cord paralysis in adduction.
The anatomical findings showed that the cricoarytenoid joint did not contribute to the airway in any of the measured specimens. Using L-PAC, 100% of the patients were decannulated and no patient needed a postoperative tracheostomy at any time. Only 3 patients experienced minimal postoperative aspiration to liquids (6.7%). Reasonable phonation was achieved as regarded by a speech analysis battery. Three patients (6.7%) needed a contralateral L-PAC.
The shape of the cricoid and the location of its axis of maximum width ought to dictate the technique of glottic widening to be used in bilateral cord immobility in adduction. The present extra-articular technique, L-PAC, showed its versatility in providing an effective balance between the protective, the respiratory, and to lesser extent the phoniatory functions.