Shoulder function and patient well-being after various types of neck dissections

F. El Ghani, M. W.M. Van Den Brekel, C. J.T. De Goede, J. Kuik, C. R. Leemans, L. E. Smeele*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Preserving the accessory nerve results in a better outcome of the shoulder function after neck dissection. However, little is known about the impact of preserving a cervical contribution to the accessory nerve. This study describes the shoulder function after different types of neck dissections, with the emphasis on the significance of the cervical contribution to the accessory nerve. Fifty-nine patients who underwent neck dissections of various types were included. Thirty-eight patients underwent unilateral radical or modified radical neck dissections, and 21 patients underwent bilateral neck dissections. All the patients were assessed subjectively and objectively, using a questionnaire and an inclinometer. Radical neck dissections inflicted significantly more morbidity than modified radical neck dissections. Preserving a cervical contribution to the accessory nerve did not decrease pain complaints or functional impairment. However, there might be some improvement in range of motion, especially exorotation and anteflexion. Preserving the accessory nerve has a positive influence on shoulder function and complaints. Preserving a cervical contribution does not decrease morbidity significantly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-408
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Otolaryngology and Allied Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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