Comparison of ventilation and voice outcomes between unilateral laryngeal pacing and unilateral cordotomy for the treatment of bilateral vocal fold paralysis

ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec. 2013;75(2):68-73. doi: 10.1159/000345501. Epub 2013 May 30.


Background/aims: Rehabilitation of the bilaterally paralyzed human larynx remains a complex clinical problem. Conventional treatment generally involves surgical enlargement of the compromised airway, but often with resultant dysphonia and risk of aspiration. In this retrospective study, we compared one such treatment, posterior cordotomy, with unilateral laryngeal pacing: reanimation of vocal fold opening by functional electrical stimulation of the posterior cricoarytenoid muscle.

Methods: Postoperative peak inspiratory flow (PIF) values and overall voice grade ratings were compared between the two surgical groups, and pre- and postoperative PIF were compared within the pacing group.

Results: There were 5 patients in the unilateral pacing group and 12 patients in the unilateral cordotomy group. Within the pacing group, postoperative PIF values were significantly improved from preoperative PIF values (p = 0.04) without a significant effect on voice (grade; p = 0.62). Within the pacing group, the mean postoperative PIF value was significantly higher than that in the cordotomy group (p = 0.05). Also, the mean postoperative overall voice grade values in the pacing group were significantly lower (better) than those of the cordotomy group (p = 0.03).

Conclusion: Unilateral pacing appears to be an effective treatment superior to posterior cordotomy with respect to postoperative ventilation and voice outcome measures.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cordotomy / methods*
  • Dysphonia / physiopathology
  • Dysphonia / surgery
  • Dysphonia / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Larynx / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pacemaker, Artificial*
  • Pulmonary Ventilation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / physiopathology
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / surgery*
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / therapy*
  • Voice / physiology*