Unilateral vocal fold paralysis in premature infants after ligation of patent ductus arteriosus: Vascular clip versus suture ligature

William C. Spanos, James T. Brookes, Mark C. Smith, Harold M. Burkhart, Edward F. Bell, Richard J.H. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations


Objectives: We investigated risk factors associated with unilateral iatrogenic vocal fold paralysis (IVFP) in the context of ligation of patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) and compared the rates of paralysis between vascular clip and suture ligation procedures. Methods: We performed a prospective examination of infants with isolated PDA treated surgically during 1995 to 2005. Statistical significance was determined with a 2-tailed t-test. Results: Of 68 PDA ligations, 13 cases of left-sided IVFP were diagnosed, for an overall incidence of 19%. All cases of IVFP occurred in 55 infants who weighed less than 1 kg at birth. Suture ligature was used in 60% of all PDA ligation patients, and vascular clips in 40%. The incidence of IVFP in patients with vascular clips (19%) was similar to the incidence in those with suture ligature (20%). Hoarseness or stridor was present in 69% of patients with IVFP, compared to 17% of normal controls (p < 0.001). The rate of aspiration was not increased in the IVFP group; however, 15% of the patients with IVFP had episodes of decreased oxygen saturation, versus 7% of infants with normal vocal fold mobility. Conclusions: A hoarse infant with a birth weight of less than 1 kg who has undergone PDA ligation should be examined for unilateral IVFP. Vascular clips and suture ligature are associated with similar rates of IVFP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)750-753
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009



  • Iatrogenic disease
  • Ligation
  • Patent ductus arteriosus
  • Premature infant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology

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