The laryngeal nerves allow your vocal cords to move in concert and produce sound. Each vocal cord (left and right) is affected by its own laryngeal nerve (left and right). This nerve should always be identified during thyroid surgery.

Depending on the circumstances, the recurrent laryngeal nerve can be hard to identify during surgery, especially if the patient has had prior thyroid surgery. Patients can suffer temporary or permanent damage if a nerve is irritated or injured. Injury can cause hoarseness and/or difficulty with swallowing.

Here is an example of the relationship of the thyroid gland to the delicate recurrent laryngeal nerve.











The laryngeal nerve monitors vocal cord movement during surgery. If there is a change in nerve function during the surgery, the laryngeal nerve monitor alerts the surgeon and operating room staff. This helps to reduce the risk of laryngeal nerve damage and hoarseness or difficulty swallowing.