Botulinum toxin therapy for abductor spasmodic dysphonia

Gayle Woodson, Heidi Hochstetler, Thomas Murry
Journal of Voice 2006, 20 (1): 137-43
Botulinum toxin has been widely accepted as an effective therapy for controlling the symptoms of adductor spasmodic dysphonia (ADSD). Reported experience with botulinum treatment for abductor spasmodic dysphonia (ABSD) has been less impressive. Factors that may impair outcomes for ABSD include differences in the pathophysiology of ADSD and ABSD and limitation of maximal dose from airway restriction with posterior cricoarytenoid muscle (PCA) weakness. We report our experience with botulinum injection of the PCA with an asymmetric dose escalation protocol, based on clinical observations that in ABSD, abductor spasms are often stronger on one side, usually the left. The nondominant side was injected with 1.25 units. Dominant side dose began at 5 units, with step-wise increments of 5 units per week until one of three endpoints was reached: Elimination of breathy voice breaks, complete abductor paralysis of the dominant side, or airway compromise. Fourteen of 17 patients achieved good or fair voice, with dominant-side doses ranging from 10 to 25 units. Exercise intolerance limited PCA dose in two patients. One patient had persisting breathiness that improved with medialization thyroplasty. Asymmetric botulinum toxin injection into PCA muscles can suppress abductor spasm in patients with ABSD, but breathiness may persist, because of inadequate glottal closure.

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