Factors predicting patient perception of dysphonia caused by benign vocal fold lesions

Alison Behrman, Lucian Sulica, Tina He
Laryngoscope 2004, 114 (10): 1693-700

OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS: To assess factors that may be predictive of patient perception of dysphonia severity, as quantified by the Voice Handicap Index (VHI) score. We hypothesize that 1) level of vocal demand; 2) auditory-perceptual evaluation of dysphonia severity; and 3) vocal function, as defined by phonatory glottal closure and mucosal wave vibration, are the most significant predictors of VHI score.

STUDY DESIGN: : Retrospective review of 100 patients with benign vocal fold lesions.

METHODS: Variables assessed for predictive value to VHI score are level of vocal demands, auditory-perceptual evaluation of dysphonia severity, integrity of mucosal wave vibration and phonatory glottal closure, lesion type, duration of current complaint, smoking, age, and sex. Harmonic to noise ratio was assessed in a subset of 50 patients.

RESULTS: Patients with routine voice use had significantly lower VHI scores than those with more intensive (nonsinging/acting) vocal demands. Patients who quit smoking had greater VHI scores than those who currently smoke or never started. Patients with long-standing dysphonia tended to have lower VHI scores than those with shorter duration vocal complaints. Auditory-perceptual assessment of dysphonia severity and harmonic to noise ratio were weak predictors of VHI score. Age, sex, lesion type, phonatory glottal closure, and mucosal wave vibration were not significant predictors of VHI score.

CONCLUSIONS: Patient perception of dysphonia severity is independent of many factors commonly assessed during the evaluation of voice disorders. It appears to be an important independent element in the assessment of the effect of a benign vocal fold lesion and critical to therapeutic decision-making.

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