Lyon surgeons have succeeded in transplanting a larynx to a forty-year-old woman, who could thus regain the use of speech in the coming months.
- A larynx was transplanted into a 49-year-old patient at the Croix-Rousse hospital in Lyon.
- She could regain the use of speech in the coming months.
- This is the fourth larynx transplant referenced worldwide.
For the first time in France, doctors from the Hospices Civils de Lyon (HCL) carried out a larynx transplant on a patient, called Karine, aged 49, on September 2 and 3. According to Progress Or the Lyon Tribune, the woman could no longer speak for 20 years, because she had lost this cartilaginous organ, located in the throat between the pharynx and the trachea. As a reminder, in addition to being important for phonation, it plays a role in swallowing and breathing.
Larynx transplant: an “extremely complex” operation which “lasted 27 hours”
To successfully carry out the operation on the forty-year-old, which was directed by Professor Philippe Céruse, head of the head and neck surgery department at the Croix-Rousse hospital, the surgeons needed ten years of work and research, because this intervention, little practiced in the world, is “extremely complex.” Indeed, the complexity of this transplantation comes from the fact that the nerves and muscles, which intersect to ensure speech and breathing, must be reconnected to ensure the motor skills of the vocal cords and allow swallowing. Furthermore, “unlike the heart or the kidney, the reestablishment of vascularization is not enough to make the larynx fully functional”, precise Progress.
According to Lyon surgeons, the intervention “lasted a cumulative 27 hours.” They waited two months before communicating this medical feat to ensure the good state of health of the patient, who is still hospitalized. “Karine, 49 years old, is doing well” and could regain the use of speech in the coming months.
The fourth larynx transplant referenced worldwide
According to the Hospices Civils de Lyon, this larynx transplant is the fourth in the world. The first successful transplant was done in the United States, specifically in Cleveland, in 1998. The patient was a man who had lost his vocal cords after a motorcycle accident and was able to regain a normal voice three years after the operation. The second transplant recorded in the literature was performed in 2010, in California, on a 52-year-old woman. Then, in 2015, Polish practitioners announced that they had successfully transplanted several throat organs, including the larynx.