Background: Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) can present with signs and symptoms that mimic asthma. This may lead to unnecessary pharmacologic treatment or more invasive measures including intubation. Presently, the diagnosis of VCD can only be confirmed when a patient is symptomatic, via pulmonary function testing (PFT) or visualization of adduction of the vocal cords during inspiration by direct laryngoscopy.
Objective: Multidimensional Voice Program (MDVP) analysis. a computer program which analyzes various aspects of voice, can detect abnormal voice patterns of patients with upper airway pathology. We determined whether MDVP analysis was useful in the diagnosis of VCD.
Methods: We conducted chart reviews of patients referred to our department from 1995 to 1998 with the presumed diagnosis of VCD who had undergone MDVP analysis. The diagnosis of VCD was based on the presenting history, PFT results, laryngoscopy results, as well as voice evaluation conducted by a speech-language pathologist. We analyzed six consecutive patients referred for this investigation. We delineated common trends in the variables measured on MDVP analysis in VCD patients. and compared these with controls and other vocal cord pathology.
Results: Five cases of possible VCD had abnormalities in the MDVP variable of soft phonation index (SPI). All five also had abnormalities in the variation in fundamental frequency (vFo). In one case, MDVP analysis was conducted pre- and posttreatment for VCD, and SPI and vFo both normalized. In a sixth case of possible VCD. the diagnosis was not confirmed as the patient had normal PFTs and laryngoscopy. MDVP analysis was normal in this individual. The pattern of abnormal SPI and vFo was not seen in a group of normal controls or in patients with vocal cord nodules.
Conclusions: MDVP analysis may be a useful tool when diagnosingVCD, as well as in evaluating response to treatment.