Surface electromyographic activity in total laryngectomy patients following laryngeal nerve transfer to neck strap muscles

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2004 Sep;113(9):754-64. doi: 10.1177/000348940411300915.


Hands-free triggering and pitch control would improve electrolarynx devices, which are inconvenient to use and sound unnatural. The present study tested the strategy of salvaging voice-related neural signals for hands-free electrolarynx control either by transferring cut recurrent laryngeal nerves (RLNs) to denervated neck strap muscles or by preserving strap muscles with their normal innervation. An RLN nerve transfer was performed at the time of total laryngectomy in 8 individuals, and in 5 of these subjects, strap muscles with intact ansa cervicalis innervation were also preserved for comparison. Neck surface electromyography performed over the strap muscles was used periodically for more than 1 year on phonatory and nonphonatory tasks. Signals were eventually obtained in all subjects from both RLN-innervated and ansa-innervated strap muscles that correlated with speech production. After 1 year, RLN-driven signals were larger than ansa-driven signals in magnitude, and their timing appeared better correlated with intended phonation. The results show that neck surface electromyography is an effective control source for hands-free electrolarynx activation, and that RLN transfer may provide the best approach for obtaining phonation-related activity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Electromyography*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Nerves / physiopathology
  • Laryngeal Nerves / surgery*
  • Laryngectomy*
  • Larynx, Artificial*
  • Muscle Denervation
  • Neck Muscles / innervation*
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology
  • Nerve Transfer / methods*
  • Phonation / physiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology*
  • Sound Spectrography
  • Speech Acoustics
  • Speech, Alaryngeal / methods*