Associations between dysphonia and paradoxical vocal fold motion (PVFM) have been previously reported in adults, but it is unclear whether similar associations exist for adolescents. The goals of this study were to identify the prevalence and severity of voice disorders in adolescent patients with PVFM, identify differences between those with and without clinician-identified dysphonia, and investigate what factors were associated with voice handicap in this population.
A retrospective review of eligible adolescent patients diagnosed with PVFM over a 1-year period at a single institution was undertaken. Data collected from the medical record included demographic background, medical history and workup, patient- and family-reported symptoms, and findings from the laryngeal examination. The presence or absence of clinician-diagnosed dysphonia was used to subdivide the sample for analysis.
Forty-eight patients with PVFM were included. The sample was primarily female (73%) with a median age of 15 years. Few patients had voice complaints (5%), but clinician-diagnosed dysphonia was common (52%) and ranged from mild to moderate. Vocal hyperfunction was frequently observed (55%), but anatomic abnormalities associated with dysphonia were rare (6%). Adolescents with dysphonia were significantly older, more likely to have vocal hyperfunction on laryngoscopy, and more likely to return for therapy than those without dysphonia. No notable differences existed in the number of behavioral therapy sessions or in the likelihood of completing treatment between the two groups. The majority of participants (79%) had at least one "confounding factor" (i.e., were currently taking a medication for asthma, allergies, or reflux, or had a laryngeal abnormality) but this did not differ significantly between those with and without dysphonia. A minority of individuals (28%) had abnormal scores on the Voice Handicap Index (VHI). Age was positively correlated with dysphonia severity but no other significant associations were observed.
Although voice complaints are rare, dysphonia among adolescents with PVFM is common and can occur in the absence of laryngeal abnormalities and medical comorbidities, typically as a result of vocal hyperfunction. Dysphonia does not appear to be a barrier to PVFM treatment and may be a useful target in therapy.