Hypoglossal nerve palsy after cervical Spine surgery

Christopher P. Ames, Aaron J. Clark, Adam S. Kanter, Paul M. Arnold, Michael G. Fehlings, Thomas E. Mroz, K. Daniel Riew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Design: Multi-institutional retrospective study. Objective: The goal of the current study is to quantify the incidence of 2 extremely rare complications of cervical spine surgery; hypoglossal and glossopharyngeal nerve palsies. Methods: A total of 8887 patients who underwent cervical spine surgery from 2005 to 2011 were included in the study from 21 institutions. Results: No glossopharyngeal nerve injuries were reported. One hypoglossal nerve injury was reported after a C3-7 laminectomy (0.01%). This deficit resolved with conservative management. The rate by institution ranged from 0% to 1.28%. Although not directly injured by the surgical procedure, the transient nerve injury might have been related to patient positioning as has been described previously in the literature. Conclusions: Hypoglossal nerve injury during cervical spine surgery is an extremely rare complication. Institutional rates may vary. Care should be taken during posterior cervical surgery to avoid hyperflexion of the neck and endotracheal tube malposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37S-39S
JournalGlobal Spine Journal
Issue number1_suppl
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • cervical spine
  • complications
  • glossopharyngeal palsy
  • hypoglossal palsy
  • retrospective

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Hypoglossal nerve palsy after cervical Spine surgery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this