Hot off the press: Laura and Ariana's paper on vocal efficiency metrics in patients with phonotraumatic lesions

August 4, 2022

Congratulations to Laura Toles and Ariana Seidman on getting their recent work published in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research! This line of research continues to investigate the clinical utility of subglottal pressure measurements, with the ultimate goals of obtaining these measurements during daily life. Stay tuned for more!

Clinical Utility of the Ratio of Sound Pressure Level to Subglottal Pressure in Patients Surgically Treated for Phonotraumatic Vocal Fold Lesions

Laura E Toles 1 2 3Ariana Y Seidman 2Robert E Hillman 1 2 4Daryush D Mehta 1 2 4


Purpose: This study aimed to determine whether a simplified, and potentially more stable, acoustic-aerodynamic voice outcome ratio (ratio of sound pressure level [SPL] to subglottal pressure) is comparable to a traditional vocal efficiency measure (ratio of acoustic power to the product of average subglottal pressure and average phonatory airflow) in terms of the ability to detect change in vocal function following surgical removal of bilateral phonotraumatic lesions.

Method: Pre- and postoperative acoustic and aerodynamic measures were analyzed retrospectively from 75 female patients who underwent surgical removal of bilateral phonotraumatic lesions. A 2 × 2 repeated-measures analysis of variance was conducted for each of three acoustic-aerodynamic voice outcome ratios-traditional vocal efficiency, an SPL-based ratio with both airflow and subglottal pressure, and a simplified SPL-based ratio with subglottal pressure only-to investigate the main effects of treatment stage (pre- and postsurgery), loudness condition (comfortable and loud), and their interaction. Post hoc paired samples t tests were conducted for statistically significant interactions. The within-subject variability of the measures was assessed using the coefficient of variation.

Results: Although exhibiting an expected main effect of loudness (higher values in the loud condition), the traditional vocal efficiency ratio did not exhibit a main effect of treatment. For both SPL-based ratios, there were significant main effects of treatment stage (higher values postoperatively) and loudness condition (lower values in the loud condition). Within-subject, postoperative changes in the two SPL-based ratios moderately correlated with one another. The simplified ratio of SPL to subglottal pressure (without airflow) exhibited the least within-subject variability relative to the other two acoustic-aerodynamic ratios.

Conclusions: These findings indicate that SPL-based acoustic-aerodynamic voice outcome ratios increase significantly following the surgical removal of phonotraumatic vocal fold lesions. The simplified ratio of SPL to subglottal pressure exhibits the least variability and can be easily obtained without requiring the measurement of airflow.