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The Effect of a Speaking Valve on Laryngeal Aspiration and Penetration in Children With Tracheotomies


  • Podium Presentation at the American Laryngological Association meeting at the Combined Spring Meeting in Orlando, Florida, U.S.A., April 10–11, 2013.

  • The authors have no funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.



Alterations in swallowing can occur after tracheotomy and can result in varying degrees of aspiration. In tracheotomized adult patients, use of a Passy Muir Speaking Valve (PMV) has been shown to decrease laryngeal penetration and aspiration of foods and liquids. The objective of this study was to determine if the PMV has a similar effect on laryngeal penetration and aspiration in tracheotomized children.

Study Design

This is a prospective case-control study.


Pediatric patients with tracheotomies who were able to tolerate the PMV were identified. Modified barium swallow (MBS) was performed with and without the PMV. Two consistencies, thin liquids and purées, were used. Two speech language pathologists (SLPs), who were blinded to the PMV status, reviewed the recorded MBSs. Three swallows of each consistency were graded on an 8 point Penetration-Aspiration Scale. Residue in the vallecula, piriform sinuses, and posterior pharyngeal wall was graded.


Twelve patients were included for analysis. Laryngeal penetration and aspiration was decreased with purées over liquids (P = 0.5 and P = 0.005, respectively) with either the sham valve or the PMV. The presence of the PMV decreased piriform sinus residue (P = 0.01); however, it did not demonstrate a decrease in laryngeal aspiration or penetration.


Unlike in adults, the presence of PMV did not decrease laryngeal aspiration or penetration in children with tracheotomies. It did, however, improve piriform sinus residue.

Level of Evidence

3b. Laryngoscope, 124:1469–1474, 2014