Management of neurologic disorders of the larynx

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2008 May;117(5):317-26. doi: 10.1177/000348940811700501.


Objectives: I review the literature on management of neurologic disorders of the larynx.

Methods: I reviewed the literature on laryngeal physiology, clinical evaluation of laryngeal function, and the clinical presentation and treatment of neurologic disorders that frequently affect the larynx.

Results: Laryngeal function is complex, as this organ is important in breathing, speech, and swallowing. Coordination of these roles is very susceptible to disruption by neurologic disorders. Diagnosis of neurologic disease is primarily based on history and physical examination; however, the diagnosis of laryngeal dysfunction is frequently overlooked, because the larynx is not easily accessible to examination by non-otolaryngologists. Evaluation of laryngeal function includes listening to the voice, systematic observation of the larynx during speech and nonspeech tasks, and, sometimes, ancillary tests. Neurologic disorders that affect laryngeal function include Parkinson's disease, essential tremor, stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, and dystonia. The otolaryngologist can sometimes provide treatment to specifically improve symptoms of laryngeal involvement.

Conclusions: Otolaryngology consultation is important in the diagnosis and treatment of neurologic disorders that affect laryngeal function. The otolaryngologist should be able to perform a systematic evaluation of laryngeal and pharyngeal function, and should be aware of the clinical presentation of neurologic disorders that affect the larynx.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Electromyography / methods
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Laryngeal Diseases* / etiology
  • Laryngeal Diseases* / therapy
  • Laryngoscopy / methods
  • Larynx / physiopathology*
  • Nervous System Diseases* / complications
  • Nervous System Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Nervous System Diseases* / therapy
  • Otolaryngology / methods
  • Physical Examination / methods