OBJECTIVE: Spasmodic dysphonia (SD) is a complex neurological communication disorder characterized by a choked, strain-strangled vocal quality with voice stoppages in phonation. Its symptoms are exacerbated by situations where communication failures are anticipated, and reduced when talking with animals or small children. Symptoms are also reduced following selected forms of treatment. It is reasonable to assume that surgical alteration reducing symptoms would also alter brain activity, though demonstration of such a phenomenon has not been documented. The objective of this study is to reveal brain activity of SD patients before and after surgical treatment.
METHODS: We performed lateralization thyroplasties on three adductor SD patients and compared pre- and post-operative positron emission tomography recordings made during vocalization.
RESULTS: Pre-operatively, cordal supplementary motor area (SMA), bilateral auditory association areas, and thalamus were activated while reading aloud. Such activity was not observed in normal subjects. Type II thyroplasty was performed according to Isshiki's method and the strained voice was significantly reduced or eliminated in all three patients. Post-operative PET showed normal brain activation pattern with a significant decrease in cordal SMA, bilateral auditory association areas and thalamus, and a significant increase in rostral SMA compared with pre-operative recordings.
CONCLUSION: This is the first report showing that treatment to a peripheral organ, which reverses voice symptoms, also reverses dysfunctional patterns of the central nervous system in patients with SD.
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