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Surgical reconstruction of the lingual and hypoglossal nerves in oropharyngeal cancer: anterior oral cavity sensorimotor and quality of life outcomes Open Access


Other title
hypoglossal nerve
tongue sensation
head and neck cancer
sensorimotor outcomes
nerve repair
radial forearm free flap
lingual nerve
oropharyngeal reconstruction
quality of life
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Elfring, Tracy Tamiko
Supervisor and department
Rieger, Jana (Speech Pathology and Audiology)
Boliek, Carol (Speech Pathology and Audiology)
Examining committee member and department
Seikaly, Hadi (Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery)
Funk, Greg (Physiology)
Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
This study explores the effects of surgical reconstruction and nerve repair on sensorimotor function and quality of life (QOL) for patients with base of tongue (BOT) cancer compared to healthy, age-matched adults. Sensations were tested on the anterior two-thirds of the oral tongue for two-point discrimination, light touch, taste, temperature, form and texture on 30 patients with BOT reconstruction with radial forearm free-flap and on 30 controls. Results indicated sensation for the unaffected tongue side and affected side with lingual nerve intact was comparable to controls, with poorer sensory outcomes for nerve repair. However, lingual nerves repaired with reanastomosis provided superior results to cable-grafting and severed nerves. Patients had decreased motor function only when the hypoglossal and lingual nerves were affected. Patients' QOL responses on the UW-QOL and EORTC QLQ-H&N35 revealed involvement of lingual and hypoglossal nerves resulted in poorer QOL outcomes. QOL interviews revealed additional problematic issues in this population not identified by standardized questionnaires.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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