Adductor spastic dysphonia: three years after recurrent laryngeal nerve resection

A E Aronson, L W De Santo
Laryngoscope 1983, 93 (1): 1-8
The voices of 33 patients, ages 44 to 79 years, were assessed after recurrent laryngeal nerve resection for adductor spastic dysphonia. Voice improvement was noted in all patients 24 hours after surgery: in 97% at 1 month, 97% at 6 months, 82% at 1 year, 70% at 1 1/2 years, 58% at 2 years, 52% at 2 1/2 years, and 36% at 3 years. Of the 64% with failed voices by 3 years, 48% were worse than before surgery. Of the 36% whose voices remained improved, 58% were worse than at any previous period and 42% were better. Failures among women (77%) were considerably higher than among men (36%). Except for one patient, none of the patients with improvement achieved a normal voice. Patients with improvement had varied types and degrees of dysphonia: breathiness, hoarseness, diplophonia, and falsetto pitch breaks. The voices of some patients approached normalcy. A high percent of patients had voice tremor and regular voice arrests on vowel prolongation, signaling that the spastic dysphonia may have been related to essential (voice) tremor and that the spastic dysphonia returned because of increased severity of the neurologic tremor. We conclude that recurrent laryngeal nerve surgery for adductor spastic dysphonia has long-term limitations and that the differential diagnosis between neurologic and psychogenic types is imperative prior to therapeutic decision making.

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