Neurologic deficiencies, with special reference to pharyngeal function, were studied prospectively in 12 patients before and after they underwent carotid endarterectomy. Pharyngeal function was monitored with cineradiography. Five patients developed pharyngeal dysfunction: defective closure of the laryngeal vestibule, epiglottic dysmotility, and pharyngeal constrictor paresis 1 week postoperatively. In 2 patients this dysfunction remained, while in 3 it had resolved 4 weeks after the operation. Pharyngeal dysfunction was more common in patients with preoperative minor stroke and a temporary perioperative carotid shunt and in patients with a long operation time. The registered transient pharyngeal dysfunction may be due to manipulation of the cervical structures including the vagus nerve and the pharynx or due to cerebrovascular damage during the operation. Our findings support careful monitoring of postoperative oral feeding in patients at risk.
Key words Pharynx – Endarterectomy carotid – Radiology, pharyngeal – Cineradiography, pharyngeal – Cranial nerves