Prevalence of Voice Disturbances in the Pediatric Craniofacial Patient Population

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Abstract

Objective

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.

Setting

Tertiary care center.

Subjects

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

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusion

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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