What Happens in (the) Vagus, Stays in (the) Vagus


  • Shawn Shah Division of Cardiac Surgery, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA
  • Stephen Derryberry Department of Surgery, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA
  • Nicholas Teman Division of Cardiac Surgery, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA
  • Curt Tribble University of Virginia School of Medicine,Charlottesville,Virginia




Many cardiothoracic operations put the nerves of the thorax at risk. In fact, nerve injuries are one of the most common reasons cited in malpractice cases brought against cardiothoracic surgeons. While all physicians learn about the nerves of the thorax during anatomy courses in medical school, little is written about avoiding injury to these important nerves in the cardiothoracic surgical literature. We have, therefore, embarked on an effort to collate information on the anatomy, function, and protection of these nerves, with which every cardiothoracic surgeon should be familiar. We will call this effort “The Nerve Protection Project.” Acknowledging that the material to be covered is considerable, we will break the project into a series of editorials. The first installment in this series will address the anatomy and function of the vagus nerve and the protection of this nerve and its branches during cardiothoracic surgical operations, as they are in harm’s way during many of these procedures.


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How to Cite

Shah, S., Derryberry, S., Teman, N., & Tribble, C. (2020). What Happens in (the) Vagus, Stays in (the) Vagus. The Heart Surgery Forum, 23(3), E335-E342. https://doi.org/10.1532/hsf.3073