The recurrent laryngeal nerve was stimulated with surface electrodes to produce vocal cord adduction, and the response was measured as pressure changes in the inflatable cuff of a tracheal tube positioned between the vocal cords. To test the linearity of the system, a model of the larynx consisting of a syringe barrel was constructed, and weights were applied to two bands of tissue simulating the vocal cords. Tests on Mallinckrodt size-7.5 tubes showed that the pressure increase produced by a given force was independent of baseline pressure in the range 10-30 mmHg. In addition, the pressure inside the inflatable cuff was linear with increasing weight (or force) for a baseline pressure of 10 mmHg. Thirty ASA physical status 1 or 2 adults were anesthetized with propofol and fentanyl. Tracheal intubation was performed in the absence of muscle relaxants, and the inflatable cuff of the tracheal tube was positioned between the vocal cords. Pressure inside the cuff was measured with an air-filled transducer. Stimulation was produced at different sites along the course of the recurrent laryngeal nerve. A surface electrode placed over the notch of the thyroid cartilage produced consistent adduction of the cords, measured as an increase of 8.9 +/- 5.1 mmHg (mean +/- standard deviation [SD]) in the cuff pressure. Neuromuscular blocking drugs produced train-of-four fade, and large doses abolished the response completely, ruling out direct muscle stimulation. It is concluded that this assembly can provide useful information on intrinsic laryngeal muscle function.
(C) 1991 American Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc.