The Doctors: Neurorrhaphy Nerve Repair Surgery on Paralyzed Vocal Cord


The Doctors: Herniated Disc Surgery Risks

A little over a year ago, Mitch was having trouble with tingling in his arm, so he made an appointment with the doctor. After having x-rays, Mitch was told he had a herniated disc that required immediate surgery.

When he woke up from the surgery, Mitch said he felt like he had an elephant sitting on his right shoulder. He had severe pain in his shoulder, and was getting worse rather than better.


After more x-rays, the doctors discovered that there was a screw coming out of the plate they had put in Mitch’s back. They decided to go back in, take the plate out, and replace it with a new one. When Mitch woke up, he didn’t have a voice.

The Doctors: Vocal Cord Paralysis

The Doctors: Neurorrhaphy Nerve Repair Surgery on Paralyzed Vocal Cord

After losing feeling in his shoulder after a surgery, Dr. Justin Brown was able to repair Mitch’s nerves using a process called Neurorrhaphy.

Mitch found out that his vocal cord was paralyzed, and he couldn’t move his shoulder or arm. Neurosurgeon Dr. Justin Brown explained to the The Doctors what caused this. According to Dr. Brown, Mitch’s situation is rare.


Mitch’s nerve was inflamed, which could have been brought on by the flu or surgery. Dr. Brown thought it was the surgery because the nerve is on a different level than what was being operated on.

Dr. Brown said that most of these get better after three to six months, but Mitch’s prognosis was poor. They then decided it was time to do something about his problem.

The Doctors: Paralyzed Vocal Cord Repair

Mitch had a “breathy” voice because of his paralyzed vocal cords. Because one of his vocal cords doesn’t move, it didn’t allow his other cord to close properly. An otolaryngologist injected a material to make his paralyzed cord move over so the functioning cord could vibrate.

The Doctors: Neurorrhaphy Procedure

Dr. Brown said Mitch lost his c5 nerve root, which is why he can’t move his shoulder. They needed to find other nerves that would work there so he would regain function.

He separated Mitch’s nerves and began stimulating them until he found some that made him move his arm. He peeled a nerve off that was primarily chest muscle and would not disrupt the function of any other nerves.

The Doctors: Nerve Repair Surgery

He performed the repair of Mitch’s nerves, called neurorrhaphy. Dr. Brown used sutures that were thinner than human hair to pass it through the nerves and loosely tie them. He also wrapped some of the nerves in nerve tube to protect them.

Mitch appeared on The Doctors a few days after his surgery. Mitch’s voice sounded a lot better! Dr. Brown said that he should expect to move his arm about a millimeter a day.


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