Objectives/hypothesis: The objective was to describe a case series of patients with refractory cough and paradoxical vocal fold movement disorder treated with respiratory retraining therapy.
Study design: Retrospective review of a case series in a tertiary medical care center.
Methods: Five patients with laryngopharyngeal reflux were identified with refractory cough and paradoxical fold movement disorder on transnasal fiberoptic laryngoscopy by a greater than 50% reduction in airway during inspiration. The were four women and one man (age range, 42-67 y). All patients had normal forced vital capacity and forced expiratory flow but decreased ratio of forced inspiratory volume at 0.5 seconds (FIV(0.5)) to forced inspiratory vital capacity (FIVC) before starting therapy. All patients were treated with more than 6 months of twice-daily proton pump inhibitor therapy with improvement in reflux symptoms but persistent and severe daytime cough. They were subsequently treated with respiratory retraining therapy. Patients were asked to rate subjectively the severity of cough at the onset and conclusion of therapy. All patients underwent pulmonary function testing before and after therapy. Long-term follow-up ranged from 5 to 17 months.
Results: Patients received two to seven sessions of respiratory retraining therapy. The mean severity score changed from 9.2 before therapy to 1.3 after therapy. All patients subjectively described an improvement in the severity of their cough. Transnasal flexible laryngoscopy demonstrated improvement in paradoxical vocal fold movement, and pulmonary function testing showed improvement in the FIV(0.5)/FIVC ratio.
Conclusion: Patients with laryngopharyngeal reflux and refractory cough in the absence of pulmonary disease should be evaluated for paradoxical vocal fold movement disorder. Respiratory retraining therapy may represent an effective therapy for cough in the absence of relief from standard management of laryngopharyngeal reflux.