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Journal of Thyroid Research
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 731250, 6 pages
Research Article

Extralaryngeal Terminal Division of the Inferior Laryngeal Nerve: Anatomical Classification by a Surgical Point of View

Department of Surgery, Duzce University, Medical Faculty, 81650 Duzce, Turkey

Received 31 March 2013; Accepted 20 May 2013

Academic Editor: Gary L. Francis

Copyright © 2013 Emin Gurleyik. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Complete anatomic knowledge including all variations of the inferior laryngeal nerve (ILN) is mandatory for thyroid surgeon. Extralaryngeal terminal division (ETD) of the ILN has significant importance for the safety of thyroidectomy. Material and Methods. Surgical dissection of 200 ILNs was performed on 100 cases. The presence of ETD of the nerve was determined intraoperatively. We propose by a surgical point of view a regional (segmental) classification of ETD of the ILN along its cervical course. Results. ETD has been observed in 54/200 nerves (27%). Great majority are bifurcated nerves (trifurcation 2%). Four types of ETD are classified. In type 1 (arterial; 46.3%), ETD has occurred near inferior thyroid artery (ITA). In type 2 (postarterial; 31.5%), division has been found on postarterial segment. In type 3 (prelaryngeal; 11%), division has been located very close to laryngeal entry point. In type 4 (prearterial; 11%), ETD has occurred before the nerve crossing the ITA. Conclusions. ETD of the ILN is a common anatomical variation. The bifurcation occurs in the ILN at various distances from laryngeal entry point. The classification increasing surgeons’ awareness may help to simplify identification and exposure of terminal branches. Preservation of both extralaryngeal terminal branches of the ILN has paramount importance for the safety of thyroid operations.