The Hospices Civils de Lyon announced on November 14 the completion of the first larynx transplant in France at the Lyon University Hospital on September 2 and 3 on a 49-year-old patient. This particularly complex intervention was carried out by a team of ten surgeons, half of whom were from HCL, under the direction of Pr Philippe Ceruse, head of the ENT and head and neck surgery department at Croix-Rousse hospital. This surgeon had been hoping for ten years to be able to perform the first operational larynx transplant.
A world premiere in Cleveland in 1998
If the first attempt at larynx transplantation would have been carried out in Ghent in 1969 (Belgium), transplants allowing patients to regain the use of speech remain rare in the world. The first dates from 1998, in Cleveland, in the United States. In addition to the transplant of the larynx, which contains the vocal cords, the patient, aged 40, had received a transplant of the pharynx, a portion of the trachea, as well as the thyroid and parathyroid glands. He had regained a normal voice after three years, according to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine in May 2001. It was then necessary to wait until October 2011 for a medical article to mention a second patient who was able to speak again after a transplant of the larynx, trachea and thyroid gland, California. Other transplants have undoubtedly succeeded throughout the world without being documented. Thus, in 2013, Pr Ceruse explained to Progress closely follow the work of Professor Tintinago, a Colombian surgeon who then had a total of 20 successful transplants. However, its results, announced at conferences, had not been the subject of publications in medical journals.
The complexity of the larynx transplant comes from the very complexity of this organ where nerves and muscles intersect to ensure speech and breathing in connection with the trachea. Unlike the heart or kidney, reestablishing vascularization is not enough to make the larynx fully functional. Its nerves must also be reconnected to ensure motor function of the vocal cords and allow swallowing while avoiding falsities in the respiratory tract.
The transplant carried out in Lyon will allow Karine, the patient, to regain her speech 20 years after having lost it. The HCL plans to communicate more fully on this premiere on November 20.