Head and neck surgeries can perturb normal structures of neck muscles and nerve innervations, which are supposed to function in harmony to allow complicated process like swallowing. It is still likely that cricopharyngal dysfunction emerges years after the head and neck surgeries.
We report a case with history of left unilateral vocal cord immobility and development of dysphagia and aspiration 2 years after radical thyroidectomy with neck lymph nodes dissection and medialization thyroplasty. Cricopharyngeal dysfunction was impressed and was confirmed with visualization of cricopharyngeal narrowing segment in radiographic contrast swallow examination. The patient was treated successfully by cricopharyngeal myotomy, achieving long-term relief in our 4 years of follow up.
Our case of delayed cricopharyngal dysfunction after radical thyroidectomy and medialization thyroplasty shows that it is important to follow up swallowing functions after patients with UVCI undergo medialization thyroplasty. In the event of delayed manifestation of cricopharyngeal function, it can still be treated successfully by cricoharyngeal myotomy, achieving long term relief of dysphagia.