This article provides a summary of some recent innovations in voice assessment expected to have an impact in the next 5–10 years on how patients with voice disorders are clinically managed by speech-language pathologists. Specific innovations discussed are in the areas of laryngeal imaging, ambulatory voice monitoring, and “big data” analysis using machine learning to produce new metrics for vocal health. Also discussed is the potential for using voice analysis to detect and monitor other health conditions.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To summarize recent technological advancements and insight into the role of stroboscopy in laryngeal imaging. RECENT FINDINGS: Although stroboscopic technology has not undergone major technological improvements, recent clarifications have been made to the application of stroboscopic principles to video-based laryngeal imaging. Also recent advances in coupling stroboscopy with high-definition video cameras provide higher spatial resolution of vocal fold vibratory function during phonation. Studies indicate that the interrater reliability of visual stroboscopic assessment varies depending on the laryngeal feature being rated and that only a subset of features may be needed to be representative of an entire assessment. High-speed videoendoscopy (HSV) judgments have been shown to be more sensitive than stroboscopy for evaluating vocal fold phase asymmetry, pointing to the future potential of complementing stroboscopy with alternative imaging modalities in hybrid systems. Laryngeal videostroboscopy alone continues to play a central role in clinical voice assessment. Even though HSV may provide more detailed information about phonatory function, its eventual clinical adoption will depend on how remaining practical, technical, and methodological challenges will be met. SUMMARY: Laryngeal videostroboscopy continues to be the modality of choice for imaging vocal fold vibration, but technological advancements in HSV and associated research findings are driving increased interest in the clinical adoption of HSV to complement videostroboscopic assessment.
In this article, we provide a brief summary of the major technological advances that led to current methods for imaging vocal fold vibration during phonation including the development of indirect laryngoscopy, imaging of rapid motion, fiber optics, and digital image capture. We also provide a brief overview of new emerging technologies that could be used in the future for voice research and clinical voice assessment, including advances in laryngeal high-speed videoendoscopy, depth-kymography, and dynamic optical coherence tomography.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This paper describes recent advances in perceptual, acoustic, aerodynamic, and endoscopic imaging methods for assessing voice function. RECENT FINDINGS: We review advances from four major areas. PERCEPTUAL ASSESSMENT: Speech-language pathologists are being encouraged to use the new consensus auditory-perceptual evaluation of voice inventory for auditory-perceptual assessment of voice quality, and recent studies have provided new insights into listener reliability issues that have plagued subjective perceptual judgments of voice quality. ACOUSTIC ASSESSMENT: Progress is being made on the development of algorithms that are more robust for analyzing disordered voices, including the capability to extract voice quality-related measures from running speech segments. AERODYNAMIC ASSESSMENT: New devices for measuring phonation threshold air pressures and air flows have the potential to serve as sensitive indices of glottal phonatory conditions, and recent developments in aeroacoustic theory may provide new insights into laryngeal sound production mechanisms. ENDOSCOPIC IMAGING: The increased light sensitivity of new ultra high-speed color digital video processors is enabling high-quality endoscopic imaging of vocal fold tissue motion at unprecedented image capture rates, which promises to provide new insights into the mechanisms of normal and disordered voice production. SUMMARY: Some of the recent research advances in voice function assessment could be more readily adopted into clinical practice, whereas others will require further development.