Spasmodic Dysphonia: A Review. Part 1

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Abstract

Objective

The purpose of this review is to describe the recent advances in identifying possible factors involved in the pathogenesis of spasmodic dysphonia. Spasmodic dysphonia is a task-specific focal laryngeal dystonia characterized by irregular and uncontrolled voice breaks. Pathogenesis of the disorder is poorly understood.

Data Sources

PubMed, Google Scholar, and Cochrane Library.

Review Methods

The data sources were searched using the following search terms: (spasmodic dysphonia or laryngeal dystonia) and (etiology, aetiology, diagnosis, pathogenesis, or pathophysiology).

Conclusions

Several potential etiological factors have been proposed by epidemiological, genetic, and neuropathological studies. Spasmodic dysphonia is a rare disorder primarily affecting females beginning in their 40s. Vocal tremor co-occurs in 30% to 60%. Large cohort studies identified risk factors such as a family history of neurological disorders including dystonia and tremor, recent viral illness, and heavy voice use. As none are rare events, a complex interactive process may contribute to pathogenesis in a small proportion of those at risk. Consequences to pathogenesis are neurological processes found in spasmodic dysphonia: loss of cortical inhibition, sensory processing disturbances, and neuroanatomical and physiological differences in the laryngeal motor control system.

Implications for Practice

Diagnosis of spasmodic dysphonia usually includes speech and laryngoscopic assessment. However, as diagnosis is sometimes problematic, measurement of neurophysiological abnormalities may contribute useful adjuncts for the diagnosis of spasmodic dysphonia in the future.

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