Effect of Vocal Fold Medialization on Dysphagia in Patients with Unilateral Vocal Fold Immobility

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Abstract

Objective

The effect of vocal fold medialization (VFM) on vocal improvement in persons with unilateral vocal fold immobility (UVFI) is well established. The effect of VFM on the symptom of dysphagia is uncertain. The purpose of this study is to evaluate dysphagia symptoms in patients with UVFI pre- and post-VFM.

Study Design

Case series with chart review.

Setting

Academic tertiary care medical center.

Subjects and Methods

The charts of 44 persons with UVFI who underwent VFM between June 1, 2013, and December 31, 2014, were abstracted from a prospectively maintained database at the University of California, Davis, Voice and Swallowing Center. Patient demographics, indications, and type of surgical procedure were recorded. Self-reported swallowing impairment was assessed with the validated 10-item Eating Assessment Tool (EAT-10) before and after surgery. A paired samples t test was used to compare pre- and postmedialization EAT-10 scores.

Results

Forty-four patients met criteria and underwent either vocal fold injection (73%) or thyroplasty (27%). Etiologies of vocal fold paralysis were iatrogenic (55%), idiopathic (29%), benign or malignant neoplastic (9%), traumatic (5%), or related to the late effects of radiation (2%). EAT-10 (mean ± SD) scores improved from 12.2 ± 11.1 to 7.7 ± 7.2 after medialization (P < .01) with a follow-up of 119 ± 65 days.

Conclusion

Patients with UVFI suffer from dysphagia and report significant improvement in swallowing symptoms following VFM. The symptomatic improvement appears to be durable over time.

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