Vocal aging and adductor spasmodic dysphonia: response to botulinum toxin injection


Aging of the larynx is characterized by involutional changes which alter its biomechanical and neural properties and create a biological environment that is different from younger counterparts. Illustrative anatomical examples are presented. This natural, non-disease process appears to set conditions which may influence the effectiveness of botulinum toxin injection and our expectations for its success. Adductor spasmodic dysphonia, a type of laryngeal dystonia, is typically treated using botulinum toxin injections of the vocal folds in order to suppress adductory muscle spasms which are disruptive to production of speech and voice. A few studies have suggested diminished response to treatment in older patients with adductor spasmodic dysphonia. This retrospective study provides a reanalysis of existing pre-to-post treatment data as function of age. Perceptual judgments of speech produced by 42 patients with ADSD were made by two panels of professional listeners with expertise in voice or fluency of speech. Results demonstrate a markedly reduced positive response to botulinum toxin treatment in the older patients. Perceptual findings are further elucidated by means of acoustic spectrography. Literature on vocal aging is reviewed to provide a specific set of biological mechanisms that best account for the observed interaction of botulinum toxin treatment with advancing age.

Publication Title

Clinical interventions in aging