There is variation in the literature in regard to the occurrence of unilateral vocal fold paralysis (UVFP) after congenital cardiothoracic surgery. The objective of this study was to identify and appraise the evidence for the occurrence of UVFP after congenital cardiothoracic surgery in a meta-analysis.
A comprehensive search strategy in Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane Library was conducted, limited to English publications. Two independent reviewers screened studies for eligibility criteria. Of the 162 identified studies, 32 (20%) met the inclusion criteria. Using the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine guidelines, 2 reviewers appraised the level of evidence, extracted data, and resolved discrepancies by consensus. Weighted pooled proportion and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) are reported.
Thirty-two studies (n = 5625 patients) were included. Levels of evidence varied from level 3 to 4. Among all studies, the weighted pooled proportion of UVFP was 9.3% (95% CI, 6.6% to 12.5%), and among 11 studies (n = 584 patients) that postoperatively evaluated patients with flexible nasopharyngolaryngoscopy to document presence of UVFP, the weighted pooled proportion of UVFP was 29.8% (95% CI, 18.5% to 42.5%). Twenty-one studies (n = 2748 patients) evaluated patients undergoing patent ductus arteriosus ligation surgery, and the weighted pooled proportion of UVFP was 8.7% (95% CI, 5.4% to 12.6%). Six of these (n = 274 patients) assessed all patients postoperatively, and the weighted pooled proportion of UVFP was 39% (95% CI, 18% to 63%). Pooled analyses of risk factors and comorbidities are reported. Heterogeneity and publication bias were detected.
UVFP is a demonstrated risk of congenital cardiothoracic surgery. Routine postoperative nasopharyngolaryngoscopy for vocal fold assessment by an otolaryngologist is suggested.