Objectives/Hypothesis: Lidocaine block of the recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) has been reported as a procedure for surgical selection of patients with adductor spasmodic dysphonia (ADSD). However, its effects on phonation have not been rigorously assessed in a prospective fashion using strict entry criteria and multiple measures of phonatory function. This investigation assessed the phonatory effects of RLN lidocaine block in ADSD to explore its potential as a diagnostic tool.
Study Design: Single group, pre/postexperimental trial.
Methods: Twenty-one consecutive patients with suspected ADSD underwent unilateral RLN block, causing temporary ipsilateral vocal fold paralysis. Voices were recorded before and during the block. Patients completed self-ratings of overall level of dysphonia severity, vocal effort, and laryngeal tightness. Blinded listeners completed auditory-perceptual ratings, and the frequency of phonatory breaks was acoustically analyzed.
Results: During the block, patients reported significant reductions on overall severity (P = .045), vocal effort (P < .001), and laryngeal tightness (P = .002). Listeners rated the voices during the block as significantly more breathy (P < .001), less strained (P < .001), and less severe (P = .059). Acoustic analysis confirmed significantly fewer phonatory breaks during the block (P < .001). Patient-based ratings of improvement were more consistent than listener ratings, and reduction in overall severity correlated with perceived breathiness.
Conclusions: Although individuals varied in their outcomes, group results suggest that response to RLN lidocaine block warrants further study as a possible diagnostic tool in ADSD.