Objective: To determine the effects of globus pallidus interna (GPi) deep brain stimulation (DBS) on speech and voice quality of patients with primary, medically refractory dystonia.
Methods: Voices of 14 patients aged ≥18 years (males = 7 and females = 7) with primary dystonia (DYT1 gene mutation dystonia = 4, cervical dystonia = 6, and generalized dystonia = 4) with bilateral GPi DBS were assessed. Five blinded raters (two fellowship-trained laryngologists and three speech/language pathologists) evaluated audio recordings of each patient pre- and post-DBS. Perceptual voice quality was rated using the Grade, Roughness, Breathiness, Asthenia, and Strain scale and changes in speech intelligibility were assessed with the Clinical Global Impression scale of Severity instrument. Inter-rater and intrarater reliability rates for perceptual voice ratings were assessed using the kappa coefficient.
Results: Voice quality parameters showed mean improvements in Grade (P < 0.0001), Roughness (P = 0.0043), and Strain (P < 0.0001) 12 months post-DBS. Asthenia increased from baseline to 6 months (P = 0.0022) and declined significantly from 6 to 12 months (P = 0.0170). Breathiness did not change significantly over time. Speech intelligibility also improved from 6 to 12 months (P = 0.0202) and from pre-DBS to 12 months post-DBS (P = 0.0022). Grade and Strain ratings had nearly perfect and substantial inter-rater agreement (0.84 and 0.71, respectively).
Conclusions: Voice and speech intelligibility improved after bilateral GPi DBS for dystonia. GPi DBS may emerge as a potential treatment option for patients with medically refractory laryngeal dystonia.
Keywords: Deep Brain Stimulation; Globus Pallidus Interna; Primary dystonia; Speech; Voice.
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