Prevalence of Voice Disturbances in the Pediatric Craniofacial Patient Population

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To report on the prevalence of voice disturbances in the pediatric craniofacial population and to prove that the pediatric Voice Handicap Index (pVHI) is a useful questionnaire for this unique population.

Study Design

Case series with chart review.


Tertiary care center.


Pediatric patients seen by a pediatric otolaryngologist in a craniofacial clinic.


Consecutive patients (N = 366) seen by a single pediatric otolaryngologist in a craniofacial clinic from July 2011 to September 2012 were included. Any patient specifically referred for airway problems or voice difficulties completed a pVHI questionnaire. Patients each underwent an evaluation including flexible fiberoptic laryngoscopy and videostroboscopy. Voice disturbance was further characterized into dysphonia, hypernasality, or hyponasality.


Of all the patients evaluated, 280 (77%) were specifically referred for airway problems or voice disturbance. Of those referred, 39 (10.7%) were found to have an organic vocal fold pathology causing dysphonia, as seen on the videostroboscopic examination; 53.7% of these lesions were attributable to potential iatrogenic causes. Hypernasality and hyponasality were seen in 116 (31.7%) and 78 (21.3%) patients, respectively. The pVHI was 3.95, 26.3, 11.34, and 10.53 for those with no voice disturbance, dysphonia, hypernasality, and hyponasality, respectively.


Pediatric patients with craniofacial disorders have a higher prevalence of dysphonia than the general pediatric population. The majority of causes of dysphonia in these patients are possibly iatrogenic in origin. The pVHI serves as a useful questionnaire in this unique patient cohort to quantify the disability from not only dysphonia but also hypernasality and hyponasality.

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