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J Voice. 2016 Jul;30(4):501-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2015.06.005. Epub 2015 Aug 1.

Refractory Dysphonia Due to Isolated Cricothyroid Muscle Dystonia.

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Department of Otolaryngology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas. Electronic address:
Department of Otolaryngology, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon.
Department of Otolaryngology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.



To demonstrate the utility of electromyography (EMG) in the evaluation and management of treatment-resistant dysphonia.


We report a case of refractory dysphonia in which EMG was used to identify and treat isolated cricothyroid (CT) dystonia.


The patient, a healthy 43-year-old woman, presented with 9 months of progressive hoarseness. Her symptoms were present across vocal tasks but were particularly bothersome while dictating. On presentation, her voice was rated grade 3, roughness 3, breathiness 1, asthenia 0, and strain 3 (G3R3B1A0S3). Videostroboscopy was remarkable for hyperfunction. Voice therapy was not beneficial despite appropriate effort. Microdirect laryngoscopy revealed no evidence of structural pathology. The patient was referred for EMG because of her normal examination and failure to improve with therapy. The CT muscle demonstrated an increased latency of 750 ms in all vocal tasks. One month after CT injection with 3 units of botulinum toxin (BTX), her voice was improved. Perceptual voice evaluation was rated G1R1B0A0S1. Voice Handicap Index improved from 87 to 35.


In the absence of structural pathology, EMG can be a useful adjunct in the diagnosis of dysphonia that persists despite adequate trials of voice therapy. To our knowledge, this is the only report of laryngeal dystonia due to isolated CT dysfunction successfully treated with BTX.


Cricothyroid muscle; Laryngeal dystonia; Laryngeal electromyography; Spasmodic dysphonia

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