Patient perceptions of factors leading to spasmodic dysphonia: a combined clinical experience of 350 patients

Lesley Childs, Scott Rickert, Thomas Murry, Andrew Blitzer, Lucian Sulica
Laryngoscope 2011, 121 (10): 2195-8

PURPOSE: Spasmodic dysphonia (SD) is an idiopathic voice disorder that is characterized by either a strained, strangled voice quality or a breathy voice with aphonic segments of connected speech. It has been suggested that environmental factors play a role in triggering the onset. Clinical observation suggests that some patients associate onset with specific events or factors while others do not. The purpose of this study was to examine a large database of SD patients to determine if specific triggers are associated with the onset of SD.

PROCEDURES: Retrospective chart review.

RESULTS: A total of 350 charts of patients with SD were identified and were categorized as either "sudden onset" or "gradual onset." One hundred sixty-nine recalled their circumstances surrounding onset. Forty-five percent of these patients described the onset as sudden. Patient perceptions of inciting events in the sudden onset group were identified 77% of the time and 2% of the time in the gradual onset group. The most common factors identified were stress (42%), upper respiratory infection (33%), and pregnancy and parturition (10%).

CONCLUSIONS: Thirty-five percent of SD patients perceive their disorder to have a sudden onset with identified inciting events. This prevalence raises questions regarding possible behavioral and environmental factors surrounding the onset of this disorder.

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