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Laryngoscope. 2011 Oct;121(10):2195-8. doi: 10.1002/lary.22168. Epub 2011 Sep 6.

Patient perceptions of factors leading to spasmodic dysphonia: a combined clinical experience of 350 patients.

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New York Head and Neck Institute, Center for Voice and Swallowing Disorders, New York, New York 10019, USA.



Spasmodic dysphonia (SD) is an idiopathic voice disorder that is characterized by either a strained, strangled voice quality or a breathy voice with aphonic segments of connected speech. It has been suggested that environmental factors play a role in triggering the onset. Clinical observation suggests that some patients associate onset with specific events or factors while others do not. The purpose of this study was to examine a large database of SD patients to determine if specific triggers are associated with the onset of SD.


Retrospective chart review.


A total of 350 charts of patients with SD were identified and were categorized as either "sudden onset" or "gradual onset." One hundred sixty-nine recalled their circumstances surrounding onset. Forty-five percent of these patients described the onset as sudden. Patient perceptions of inciting events in the sudden onset group were identified 77% of the time and 2% of the time in the gradual onset group. The most common factors identified were stress (42%), upper respiratory infection (33%), and pregnancy and parturition (10%).


Thirty-five percent of SD patients perceive their disorder to have a sudden onset with identified inciting events. This prevalence raises questions regarding possible behavioral and environmental factors surrounding the onset of this disorder.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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