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Surgery Safe to Treat Bilateral Vocal Cord Paralysis

But patients also need speech therapy after surgery to improve quality of life

WEDNESDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Treating bilateral vocal cord paralysis surgically is safe and effective, but post-surgical microlaryngostroboscopic findings do not necessarily correlate with patients' subjective dyspnea or speech difficulties, according to an article published in the March issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

Wilma Harnisch, of the University of Wurzburg in Wurzburg, Germany, and colleagues conducted a study of 10 patients who were examined a mean 27.2 months after they underwent surgery to treat bilateral vocal cord paralysis. The investigators measured glottal area, voice range, voice handicap, pulmonary function and also assessed chronic respiratory disease, quality of life and microlaryngostroboscopic findings.

Nine out of 10 patients had residual nerve function but all had reduced voice range, the researchers report, and Voice Handicap Index scores were higher due to high breathiness and reduced maximum phonation time. There was a correlation between expiratory airflow measures and quality of life, subjective dyspnea and physical functioning.

"Microlaryngostroboscopic findings did not necessarily correlate with subjective dyspnea symptoms, pulmonary function test results and vocal complaints," the authors write. "Voice rehabilitation should be monitored objectively using computerized voice analysis, which is superior to perceptive voice evaluation. Reduction of inspiratory speaking efforts and acquisition of special breathing techniques improve airflow stability and effectiveness of respiration, leading to enhanced quality of life and patient satisfaction."

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