Medial arytenoidectomy versus transverse cordotomy as a treatment for bilateral vocal fold paralysis

Brooke Bosley, Clark A Rosen, C Blake Simpson, Brian T McMullin, Jackie L Gartner-Schmidt
Annals of Otology, Rhinology, and Laryngology 2005, 114 (12): 922-6

OBJECTIVES: Transverse cordotomy (TC) and medial arytenoidectomy (MA) are procedures performed to enlarge the glottic airway in patients with bilateral vocal fold paralysis (BVFP). Both are less destructive than total arytenoidectomy and have distinct theoretical advantages for voice preservation, but they have never been compared.

METHODS: The records of patients with BVFP treated with TC or MA were reviewed; information regarding the outcome measures of tracheotomy decannulation, dysphagia, Voice Handicap Index score, voice intensity, clinical course, and preoperative and postoperative voice quality was obtained.

RESULTS: Seventeen patients were available for evaluation (11 with TC, 6 with MA). All 6 patients with a preoperative tracheotomy were decannulated. Four patients in the MA group and 2 in the TC group had an increase in their postoperative Voice Handicap Index score. Two of the patients in the MA group had a decrease in phonatory sound pressure level of 3 dB, and 1 in the TC group had a decrease of 2 dB sound pressure level. Patient self-report of airway status following TC or MA showed that 62.5% (10 of 16) were significantly better and 25% (4 of 16) were somewhat better. Blinded audio perceptual analysis comparing preoperative and postoperative voice quality showed no difference between the MA and TC groups. A swallowing quality-of-life instrument confirmed a lack of swallowing difficulties postoperatively.

CONCLUSIONS: Both TC and MA are good treatment options for BVFP, with a low incidence of complications in postoperative voice or of swallowing difficulties and a consistent improvement of laryngeal airway restriction symptoms.

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