Chemodenervation by injection of botulinum toxin type A into the vocal fold(s) has become the preferred treatment for patients with adductor spasmodic dysphonia. Injection may be done either perorally or transcutaneously; each method has its advocates and advantages. The authors have used the transcutaneous transcricothyroid membrane route exclusively with satisfactory results in more than 50 patients. Temporary breathiness and aspiration are common.
The preferred injection site should be as close as possible to the motor end plates of the affected muscle. The thyroarytenoid muscle end plates are distributed throughout the muscle, whereas in the lateral cricoarytenoid muscle they are located in band in the center of the muscle. The transcutaneous injection site is below and posterior to the midpoint of the vibrating vocal fold as visualized by indirect laryngoscopy. The proximity of this site to the lateral cricoarytenoid muscle suggests that postinjection breathiness and aspiration may be related to spread of botulinum toxin type A to the lateral cricoarytenoid muscle. However, it is likely that thyroarytenoid muscle paresis is mainly responsible for this side effect and that the rapid clearing of the breathy dysphonia in the face of prolonged relief of spasmodic dysphonia symptoms suggests the action of an adaptive neural response, such as axonal sprouting. Further research of this subject is warranted.