Laryngeal sensory deficits in patients with chronic cough and paradoxical vocal fold movement disorder

Laryngoscope. 2010 Aug;120(8):1576-81. doi: 10.1002/lary.20985.


Objectives/hypothesis: Although the diagnostic accuracy of paradoxical vocal fold movement disorder and chronic cough has improved, the underlying pathophysiology remains relatively unknown. We hypothesize that one potential etiological factor in these patients is an aberrant laryngeal sensory response and sought to determine if respiratory retraining in addition to antireflux therapy alters this aberrant response.

Study design: Retrospective, outcomes.

Methods: Sixteen patients who had been on at least 3 months of twice-daily proton pump inhibitors with no subjective improvement in their primary complaint of cough, self-reported symptoms of gastroesophageal and laryngopharyngeal reflux, and concurrent paradoxical vocal fold movement (PVFM) were included in the current study. In addition to continuing twice daily pharmacological therapy, subjects underwent a course of respiratory retraining. Outcome measures including the Reflux Symptom Index (RSI), transnasal flexible laryngoscopy, and laryngopharyngeal sensory discrimination thresholds were obtained prior to and following a course of respiratory retraining.

Results: Mean bilateral laryngeal sensory response improved significantly after combined respiratory retraining and aggressive proton pump inhibitor therapy (P = .01). In addition, mean RSI score decreased significantly following treatment (P = .02). Specifically, 13 of 16 patients experienced improved sensory response, corresponding with patient reports of improved PVFM symptoms following treatment.

Conclusions: Aberrant laryngeal sensation was identified in patients with PVFM and chronic cough. This response, however, normalized following a limited course of respiratory retraining, corresponding with improved patient symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breathing Exercises*
  • Cough / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Laryngeal Diseases / therapy*
  • Laryngopharyngeal Reflux / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement Disorders / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vocal Cords / physiopathology*