The Superior Laryngeal Nerve

Tammy M. Holm, Sara I. Pai

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The superior laryngeal nerve, once an afterthought in thyroid surgery, is now recognized as a vital structure worthy of preservation in thyroidectomy. The superior laryngeal nerve is a branch of the vagus nerve which bifurcates into an internal branch, providing sensory innervation to the larynx, and an external branch, supplying motor innervation to the cricothyroid. The anatomical path of the internal branch of the superior laryngeal nerve protects it from injury during thyroidectomy. The external branch, however, can be closely associated with the superior pole of the thyroid, and as such can be at high risk of intraoperative injury. The surgical approach to preservation, direct identification versus avoidance, remains controversial. While current advancements in thyroid surgery, including minimally invasive and robotic thyroidectomy, have introduced new challenges in superior laryngeal nerve preservation, continued innovations in surgical strategies and nerve monitoring technology allow for consistent preservation of the external branch of the superior laryngeal nerve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThyroid Surgery
Subtitle of host publicationPreventing and Managing Complications
PublisherJohn Wiley and Sons
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9780470659502
StatePublished - Dec 18 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Identification
  • Pitch
  • Preservation
  • Superior laryngeal nerve
  • Thyroidectomy
  • Vocal fatigue
  • Voice therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'The Superior Laryngeal Nerve'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this