Benign Anatomical Mistakes: The Correct Anatomical Term for the Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve

Mirilas, Petros; Skandalakis, John E.
January 2002
American Surgeon;Jan2002, Vol. 68 Issue 1, p95
Academic Journal
The term recurrent laryngeal nerve has been adopted by Nomina Anatomica (1989) and Terminologia Anatomica (1998) to describe this vagus branch from its origin, its turn dorsally around the subclavian artery and the aortic arch, and its cranial pathway until it reaches its terminal organs in the neck. However, there is still much confusion, and either the terms inferior and recurrent laryngeal nerve are used interchangeably or inferior laryngeal nerve is considered the terminal branch of the recurrent laryngeal nerve. We hereby feel that it is necessary to reassess the term and we propose the term inferior laryngeal nerve for the entire nerve under consideration, from its orgin from the vagus nerve to its destinations, including traheal, esophageal, and pharyngeal branches. If the term superior laryngeal nerve is a given, standard and accepted term in the anatomical terminology, then logically the term inferior laryngeal nerve should also be accepted, as opposed to it. Of course the upward travel of the inferior laryngeal nerve is "recurrent". When nonrecurrence is encountered together with an arteria lusoria, a retroesophageal right subclavian artery or a right aortic arch, we consider that the term nonrecurrent inferior laryngeal nerve should be used to describe the deviation from the normal.


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